Lawmakers speak out

Lawmakers speak out

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Stock photo

Lawmakers representing Western Pennsylvania on Capitol Hill are meeting the completion of the deal announced last week between Iran and six world powers with skepticism, and in some cases, condemnation.

“I don’t like it, quite plainly,” said Rep. Tim Murphy (R-District 18) in an interview. “I think it is more of an arms proliferation agreement.”

Murphy criticized the deal as failing to impose accountability upon Iran, failing to provide adequate inspection measures and failing to “stop them from moving forward to developing nuclear weapons.”

“Iran is the top supporter of terrorism in the world, with the stated purpose of genocide to Israel,” he said, noting that the Iranian regime also supports enemies of the United States such as the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

“Instead of stopping nuclear proliferation, [this agreement] leads to the certainty of it,” he said.

While Murphy had not yet completed his review of the entire agreement at the time of the interview, “so far, I am voting against it,” he said.

Sens. Bob Casey, a Democrat, and Pat Toomey, a Republican,  both said they would be engaging in a close review of the agreement, with their priority being the protection of our national security.

“Preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is critical to our national security and that of our partners in the region, especially Israel,” Casey said in a prepared statement. “That’s why I have consistently sponsored and supported sanctions against Iran, which brought the regime to the table in the first place, and legislation like the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act and the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015.”

Toomey, in a statement of his own, expressed concern that the deal “will provide hundreds of billions of dollars to an untrustworthy Iranian regime’s support for terrorism, while ushering in a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle East.”

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-District 3) went so far as to call the deal “a dangerous mistake of potentially historic proportions.”

The deal, Kelly said in a statement, “fails to achieve the paramount mission of permanently ending Iran’s nuclear ambitions while instead leaving the Islamic Republic newly emboldened, wrongly legitimized and ominously free to continue its deadly sponsorship of international terrorism.”

Kelly accused President Barack Obama of being motivated by personal ambitions at the cost of world security. Obama, charged Kelly, “was openly desperate to achieve a legacy-cementing deal at almost any cost. The Iranians exploited the situation by extracting concession after concession and are now left celebrating a deal that rewards their government with tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief — much of which is guaranteed to be funneled to terrorist groups and causes throughout the world.”

He urged Congress to “do everything in our power to defeat this agreement. Doing so would reassert our nation’s indispensable global leadership and deny Iran a victory the world cannot afford.”

Congressman Keith Rothfus (R-District 12) expressed similar sentiments. “Unfortunately, President Obama’s agreement with Iran appears to fall far short of the commitments that he made to the American people,” he said in a news release. “The deal requires only modest concessions from the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism in return for freeing up hundreds of billions of dollars in frozen assets and sanctions relief that Iran will use to undermine the safety and security of the United States and our allies in the Middle East, particularly Israel.

“The agreement preserves Iran’s ability to pursue nuclear weapons in the future, effectively lifts the arms embargo and ballistic-missile ban and does not institute the unfettered access and monitoring that the president promised. Far from ending the potential for a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, I fear that this all but guarantees one.”

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-District 14) emphasized his commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and to the security of the Jewish state.

“I’m staunchly committed to preserving the safety and security of Israel that requires preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Doyle wrote in an email to The Chronicle. “I believe that we can and that doing it through diplomacy is certainly preferable to military action.

“I will diligently read and research the entire agreement and seek explanations to the questions I have in order to make a fully informed decision,” he said.

Democratic Senate hopeful Joe Sestak praised the deal, emphasizing its advantages over military options.

“Today’s nuclear agreement with Iran is another cautious, crucial step toward peacefully and permanently stopping the Iranians from attaining nuclear weapons,” Sestak said in a prepared statement. “Diplomacy is protracted, difficult and complex — but it must always be the first option to try over war.” A military option, he said, could be employed down the road if the Iranians breach the agreement and pursue a nuclear weapon.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, while recognizing the work of  Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and their team of diplomats, expressed concern regarding the accord.

“Iran has continually violated the human rights of its people, funded terrorist organizations, threatened annihilation of Israel, worked to destabilize neighboring countries in the region, supported Holocaust denial and previously created a covert nuclear weapons program,” said the Federation in a news release. “Just this past week, hard-liners in Iran staged a rally in which thousands marched through the streets of Tehran chanting, ‘Down with America’ and ‘Death to Israel.’ Iran is not a country that has earned our trust.”

The Federation said it welcomes “debate on the merits of the agreement and close scrutiny by Congress.” During the 60-day Congressional review period, the Federation “reaffirms our unwavering commitment to Israel’s right to exist and our belief that Israel should have a right to do everything necessary to defend itself in order to prevent existential threats to this existence.”

The Pittsburgh Jewish community, urged the Federation, should “remain involved in this Congressional review by expressing their opinions to their elected representatives.”

Toby Tabachnick can be reached at

Visit ‘For most, the jury is still out’ for statements from Jewish organizations on the agreement with Iran.

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