September 4, 2015

Luján backs Iran deal

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Official photo of U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján supports the deal with Iran over nuclear weapons that supporters say will keep the dangerous weapons out of the hands of the Middle Least power.

ben ray lujan smallLuján is the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, an organization devoted to electing more Democrats to the U.S. House, and so his stance on issues is more heavily scrutinized that they were previously.

“After an extensive review, I believe that supporting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action  represents the only viable and responsible option to hold Iran accountable and to halt its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” Luján said in announcing his support.

Such a deal will end up in place because enough members of the U.S. Senate back the deal, including both members of the chamber from New Mexico, to stop overturning a filibuster.

Luján did acknowledge that he knows that some have concerns about the deal and oppose it. Some of the opposition says that Iran cannot be trusted to keep to the terms of the deal.

“Although I will support the JCPOA, I have no illusions about the nature of the Iranian regime. Iran is an oppressive theocracy guilty of terrible human rights abuses and a supporter of international terrorism,”Luján said. “But my support of the JCPOA isn’t based on a belief that Iran shares our goals or a trust that Iran will behave. As we advance this agreement, Congress must reaffirm our commitment to the safety and security of Israel and our allies in the Middle East and Gulf region.”

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, has not yet said if she supports the Iran deal.

Rep. Steve Pearce, the lone Republican in the delegation, opposes the deal.

Below is the full statement from Luján:

“A nuclear-armed Iran is an unacceptable threat to the security of the United States, our allies, and the world. After an extensive review, I believe that supporting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action  represents the only viable and responsible option to hold Iran accountable and to halt its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

“These past months, while in Washington and as I traveled throughout New Mexico, I participated in numerous conversations with constituents and policy experts regarding the JCPOA and the ramifications of both approving and rejecting this agreement. I have been briefed by experts at Los Alamos National Lab, attended briefings on Capitol Hill, and reviewed the intelligence analyses related to the JCPOA.

“The JCPOA requires Iran to remove more than two-thirds of their centrifuges; they have been forced to give up their stockpile of highly enriched uranium; and are required to reduce their stockpile of low enriched uranium by 98%. They may only carry out enrichment activity at one location under the watch of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“Further, the unprecedented nature of the inspections regime will check Iran’s ability to undertake any action that would allow it to build a bomb. The ‘snapback’ provisions provide a strong hand to enforce the JCPOA should Iran violate the agreement. In the weeks since the JCPOA was finalized, the vast majority of nuclear nonproliferation experts have voiced their support.

“I have heard from and met with many friends who I respect who oppose the JCPOA and who shared with me concerns with the deal. Although I will support the JCPOA, I have no illusions about the nature of the Iranian regime. Iran is an oppressive theocracy guilty of terrible human rights abuses and a supporter of international terrorism. But my support of the JCPOA isn’t based on a belief that Iran shares our goals or a trust that Iran will behave. As we advance this agreement, Congress must reaffirm our commitment to the safety and security of Israel and our allies in the Middle East and Gulf region.

“Engaging in diplomacy with nations we disagree with is not new. In the midst of the Cold War, President Reagan worked with Mikhail Gorbachev to establish the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, despite concerns about the Soviet Union’s conventional armed forces. Throughout the Cold War we negotiated with the Soviet Union on nuclear nonproliferation, testing bans on nuclear devices, missile technology, arms control, and more. All the while, we worked diligently to contain and defeat the spread of communism.

“The United States has a long-standing commitment to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. This deal is a step forward, but not the end of our obligation.  The United States’ vigilance must not and cannot be allowed to wane.”

Correction: This story previously said that Lujan Grisham supports the Iran deal. Lujan Grisham has not publicly made a statement on the deal.

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