WASHINGTON - Nevada Democrats offered a cautious first impression of the nuclear agreement with Iran that President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday. Republicans were more challenging whether the deal will prevent Iran from developing a bomb.
"I‘m sure this is a proud day for the Iranian negotiators," GOP Sen. Dean Heller said after Obama unveiled the agreement in a White House address and lawmakers began pulling it apart for examination.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., praised "hard work" by Obama and officials in his administration and called the agreement a "historic accord" between Iran and the permanent members of the United Nations, plus Germany, concerned about its nuclear ambitions.
But Reid stopped short of commenting on details of the agreement, saying he would withhold a position until after further study and briefings by the White House.
"The documents are a hundred pages long," Reid told reporters. "My staff hasn‘t read it. I haven‘t read it. I recommend this to all senators: Let‘s find out what we have first."
Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., similarly was noncommittal.
Titus said "no deal is better than a bad deal," adding that she would examine the details of what Secretary of State John Kerry delivered to determine how she feels about this one.
Congress now has 60 days to review and potentially object to the agreement. Obama said he would veto any resolution that threatens the deal that aims to rein in Iranâs nuclear program,
While short of disclosing how they might vote, Nevada Republicans in Congress said they see problems with the agreement right off the bat.
They said it appeared to fail a guarantee for inspections tough enough to ensure Iran‘s nuclear activities are for peaceful ends and not to develop a weapon. At the same time, it would relax sanctions against Iran that brought the Middle Eastern nation to the negotiating table.
"If initial reports are true, this agreement would provide billions of dollars in sanctions relief and only delay Iran‘s breakout time to a nuclear bomb by a matter of months," said Republican Rep. Cresent Hardy.
"The president can claim a victory with this deal – but it is a hollow one," Hardy said. "Simply extending the time it takes for Iran to get a bomb still creates a future where Iran has a bomb."
Republican Rep. Joe Heck, who sits on the House Intelligence committees, had laid out his benchmarks for a successful agreement in an op-ed piece published on Capitol Hill in June. Comparing them to the announced deal, Heck said he had an initial concern that "we caved on anytime-anywhere nuclear site inspections, even giving Iran a say in which sites get inspected."
"One thing this deal will not change is Iran‘s continued sponsorship of terrorist groups in the Middle East and their influence peddling in Iraq," said Heck, who is running for U.S. Senate. "Those aren‘t qualities I look for in a partner on an agreement over nuclear weapons development."
Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat and former Nevada attorney general also running for Senate, said the effectiveness of proposed inspections would be key to her support for the deal.
"I support giving diplomacy a chance to succeed, however, walking away from a bad deal would be better than accepting one that is wholly insufficient,â" she said.
"We know we cannot take the Iranian regime at their word, so any agreement must ensure a robust compliance component that blankets their country with inspectors," she said. "We cannot trust, so we must diligently work to verify through independent means."
Heller was skeptical.
"For more than three decades, America has stood up against Iran and implemented sanctions enacted by Congress to prevent them from further developing a nuclear weapon," he said. "Yet, this work may be unraveled by an agreement that crosses red lines the U.S. had previously set, putting our nation and its allies like Israel at risk."