WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement regarding the Iran votes in the Senate.
“The extensive debate in the Senate this week on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran (JCPOA) further makes clear that my decision to oppose the agreement was a close call. Throughout the hours of intense deliberations and speeches, Senators passionately advocated for their positions based their informed assessments of whether this deal is in the national security interest of the United States. Debate was robust, lengthy, and consistent with the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, providing Congress with extensive time to analyze the agreement before it can be implemented. The sober debate gave every Senator ample time and opportunity to offer their views.
“On this most pressing national security issue, tactics may differ, but we all agree that Iran cannot become a nuclear weapon state. This would be a global game-changer increasing instability in one of the world’s most volatile regions.
“I was unable to support this agreement because it legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program, providing a rogue state and major sponsor of terrorism with an international endorsement of an industrial-scale nuclear program. Iran has violated its nonproliferation obligations for years, yet we will be handing them the eventual ability to legally produce enough enriched fuel for a nuclear weapon with a dangerously short breakout time. Iran will be in a stronger financial position once this agreement moves forward, allowing them to better withstand future economic pressures and making the snap-back of sanctions – if and when Iran cheats on this agreement – a difficult proposition and a less-than-effective deterrent.
“I acknowledge that I don’t know what is going to happen in the future. This is a close call. My overall assessment of the agreement was based on whether there was a higher risk of military action. I came to a conclusion that because future sanctions could be ineffective, a military option could be more likely. Military action cannot permanently solve this problem, it only delays real solutions and adds collateral damage to the economic, social and political landscape.
“My votes on this issue are based on my personal analysis and reflect a decision of conscience, not partisan politics.
“When we finish this series of votes, this nuclear agreement is one step closer to moving forward. As leaders and legislators, we must move forward in a bipartisan manner to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. We must work to counter Iran-sponsored terrorism, confront Iranian violations of ballistic missile protocols, assist Israel in her fight for peace and security, and speak out against Iranian human rights violations. This will require unity between Democrats and Republicans, the Senate and House of Representatives, Congress and the Administration. I stand ready to lead this effort in this spirit of unity and common purpose.”