Rep. Adam Schiff, an influential Democrat, backs nuclear deal with Iran
Rep. Adam Schiff of Burbank, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, came out Monday in support of the Iran nuclear agreement, saying that it “realistically precludes” Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb for 15 or more years.
Schiff, a centrist who is influential with moderate Democrats and Jewish Democrats, said he remains concerned that the international agreement won’t give United Nations inspectors full access to Iranian military sites, and it allows Tehran to quickly expand production of enriched uranium after 15 years.
But Schiff said in a statement that the Obama administration and five other world powers won favorable terms on several key issues, including a mechanism that allows a “snap back” of economic sanctions if Iran violates the terms of the deal.
In an interview, Schiff said that “at the end of the day, I could not see an alternative” to a deal that curbs Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions.
Schiff said he decided to support the agreement after long deliberation as “an American and as a Jew who is deeply concerned about the security of Israel.”
Schiff’s announcement is “a significant development...given his position on the intelligence committee, and his ties to the pro-Israel community,” said Dylan Williams, head of government relations for J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group.
Many Republican lawmakers came out against the agreement as soon as it was announced July 14. Most Democrats in Congress are taking more time to assess the deal as intense lobbying campaigns gain steam in advance of a Sept. 17 deadline for congressional action.
Schiff said rejection of the deal by Congress would be a major setback to international efforts to constrain Iran’s nuclear threat.
International sanctions almost certainly would weaken as some major countries restore business and trade ties to Iran. Iran would gain an economic boost and would have free reign to resume enrichment and other nuclear activities, he said.
Iran would go “much faster and further” with its program “and then you’re in a precarious place whether either Iran crosses a red line or it doesn’t...and the opportunities for miscalculation there are significant.”
Schiff said his greatest concern is Iran could have a large enrichment capability with international legitimacy after 15 years under the terms of the deal.
At that point, he said, its biggest obstacle to developing a bomb would be building a bomb mechanism, research that “is among the most difficult to detect.”
The Obama administration argues that intense inspections and monitoring will give the U.S. and its allies broad insight into Iran’s activities during the lifetime of the deal, and that military options will remain available if Iran then seeks to build a bomb.
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