Heller opposes Iran nuclear agreement

WASHINGTON — Calling it a “bad deal” for the United States and Israel, Sen. Dean Heller joined fellow Nevada Republicans Joe Heck, Mark Amodei and Cresent Hardy in opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.

Heller spoke out against the agreement Wednesday evening in an interview that aired on KTVN in Reno. A major concern for him was that sanctions relief would provide Iranian President Hassan Rouhani with billions of dollars that would be used for no good.

“I’m certain he’s not going to be building hospitals and schools. He’s going to be building missiles and probably face most of them toward Israel,” Heller said.

The deal negotiated with Iran by the United States and partner nations would end economic sanctions against its regime in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program and agreements for inspections to ensure it is not developing nuclear weapons. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry led the U.S. negotiating team in Switzerland that reached the agreement.

Obama officials say the agreement will halt Iran’s nuclear weapons capability for at least 15 years. Critics say that is not long enough, and express doubt that Iran will not cheat in the meantime.

Rather than accept the deal, Heller said the United States should continue sanctions until Iran agrees to better terms.

Heck announced his opposition in a press statement on Wednesday:

“The whole deal depends on Iran, a country that has never shown any interest in adhering to international norms and obligations, suddenly cooperating with the terms of this nuclear weapons agreement,” he said.

“In addition, I am not convinced that this Administration is willing to take decisive action in the event that Iran does not comply with one of the many requirements of this deal. We saw that play out in Syria when the President ignored his own ‘red line’ on chemical weapons usage, sending a signal to the world that our warnings have no teeth.”

Congress is facing a Sept. 17 deadline to weigh in on the agreement. The House plans to vote next week and will likely pass a resolution of disapproval. So far, 226 House members — 210 Republicans and 16 Democrats — have announced their opposition to the nuclear deal, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center.

In the Senate, where a 60-vote margin will likely be required to advance a resolution of disapproval, the outcome is unclear. So far, 34 Democrats have announced they will support the deal while two are opposed. The White House is hoping that at least seven of the remaining 10 undeclared Democrats will back the deal and spare the need for a veto.

Short of that, opponents of the Iraq nuclear deal would need a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate to override a veto. Proponents of the deal believe an override would fall short.

The White House on Wednesday reached the 34-vote Senate threshold to sustain a veto when Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., announced her support. And, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to Democratic colleagues Wednesday that she anticipates a veto would also be sustained in the House and more than 100 House Democrats will support the deal. So far, 93 have announced their support while 77 House Democrats are undeclared.

Amodei and Hardy announced their opposition earlier. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., is supporting the deal, and Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., has not announced her position.

Contact Peter Urban at purban@reviewjournal.com or at 202-783-1760.

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