NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said late Thursday that he plans to vote against the Iran deal.
The Republican-led Congress is in the midst of a 60-day review of the deal, and is expected to vote in September on a resolution of disapproval that President Barack Obama has vowed to veto.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, Schumer outlined his decision to vote against the deal in a statement posted on Medium.com late Thursday.
He said he had spent three weeks studying the deal and said advocates on both sides had made strong cases. He further praised President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for their work to push Iran toward an agreement.
Still, Schumer said he had concluded that the country is better off without the deal. He said the deal had too many weaknesses, and he does not believe Iran will change its own policies.
He pointed specifically to the fact that inspections for nuclear restriction compliance could not be conducted without a 24-day delay – which would be enough time for Iran to hide what it might be doing with nuclear weapons.
Worse, Schumer said, the U.S. cannot demand inspections unilaterally under the deal. The majority of the eight-member Joint Commission must approve, and “it is reasonable to fear that, once the Europeans become entangled in lucrative economic relations with Iran, they may well be inclined not to rock the boat by voting to allow inspections.”
Schumer also took issue with the “snapback” provisions in the agreement. While the U.S. could unilaterally cause a bring back on all sanctions, a partial snapback for a less severe violation would be difficult to obtain because other nations would have to cooperate, Schumer wrote.
Schumer added that there is no way to be sure that Iran will change its own policies and goals under the deal. He wrote that if after 10 years, Iran is still the same as it is today and is still intent on getting a nuclear weapon, the U.S. will indeed be worse off.
Indeed, if Iran does not change, it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power, Schumer wrote.
“To me, the very real risk that Iran will not moderate and will, instead, use the agreement to pursue its nefarious goals is too great,” Schumer wrote.
Schumer said ultimately, it is better to keep U.S. sanctions in place.
Schumer had been pulled in two directions on the Iran deal. While he is staunchly pro-Israel and has a large Jewish constituency, he’s also in line to become the leader of the Democratic caucus in 2016 and the White House had wanted him to rally the votes to prevent a veto override.
House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) also came out against the deal late Thursday. He said he is not convinced the deal will keep a nuclear weapon out of Iran’s hands.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she will be supporting Obama on the deal, saying it is the best way to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.