WASHINGTON D.C. (HawaiiNewsNow) - Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) says he will vote for the Iran nuclear disarmament treaty.
Schatz said in a statement Monday that "after multiple readings" and consultations with experts and constituents he is satisfied that the treaty "is the best approach to deny Iran a nuclear weapon."
Schatz asserts that "the vast majority of experts believe this is a worthy deal" and singles out Nicholas Burns, the ambassador responsible for Iran nuclear matters in the Bush administration. He also cites the former Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Dick Lugar of Indiana, and Brent Scowcroft, who was national security advisor to Presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush.
"While there are legitimate concerns about the agreement," Schatz says, "we must remember this plain fact: there is no other alternative that achieves these results. We do not have the luxury of being able to pick this deal apart."
The Obama administration has tried to stress that it is wrong to compare the agreement to a hypothetical agreement that people like better, and Schatz sounded that theme, too.
"This agreement," he said, "should not be compared to an imaginary deal where Iran rolled over, and eliminated all its centrifuges and all peaceful nuclear energy generation."
Sandy Berger, who was national security advisor under President Clinton, says rejecting the agreement would shift the balance of power in Iran toward radicals, reducing rather than increasing the president's bargaining power. "Seeking a strategic path to 'no' is an illusion: that somehow… this agreement will come around again… in better form," Berger says in an article on Politico.com. "Those who vote 'no' need to own the likely consequences of voting no."
Over the weekend, 29 leading U.S. scientists including experts on nuclear technology, signed a letter supporting the Iran deal. "This is an innovative agreement," they said, "with much more stringent constraints than any previously negotiated non-proliferation framework."
These statements in support of the agreement came after Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, a member of the Senate minority leadership. In an article for Medium.com, Schumer said he, like Schatz, read and re-read the agreement on his own before making his decision not to support the agreement. "The 24-day delay before we can inspect is troubling," Schumer said. "Even when we detect radioactivity at a site where Iran is illicitly advancing its bomb-making capacity, the 24-day delay would hinder our ability to determine precisely what was being done at the site."
There is opposition to the deal inside Iran. An Iranian publication characterized as "ultraconservative" by the Wall Street Journal says President Hassan Rouhani has overstepped the ayatollah's limits on concessions. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has kept quiet since the deal was reached.
The treaty was negotiated by Iran, the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, and will take effect with the U.S. as a signatory unless it is expressly rejected by the Senate by a veto-proof margin.