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Rep. Kildee joins Dems supporting Iran nuke deal

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — The White House gained another Michigan vote Thursday when U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, said he’ll vote in favor of the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran.

“I have ultimately determined it will make the world a safer place and is in the best interest of the U.S., our allies and the global community,” Kildee said in a statement.

“Ultimately, this deal prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. And if Iran cheats, we will know it.”

Kildee is the third Democrat in the Michigan delegation to pledge support for the deal. Reps. Sander Levin of Royal Oak and John Conyers Jr. of Detroit also favor it.

The proposed agreement negotiated between Iran, the Obama administration and five other world powers has been criticized by Republicans in Congress, who are upset the White House took the agreement first to the United Nations for approval ahead of Congress’ 60-day review.

The Republicans are expected to reject the agreement, although President Barack Obama has pledged a veto. Cabinet and other administration officials are lobbying hard for congressional Democrats’ support. Reps. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, and Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, are among those still undecided.

Kildee said he attended classified briefings on key provisions of the deal and met with Obama administration officials, independent experts and constituents.

He’s been vocal in urging his colleagues that, when evaluating the deal, not to forget that Iran continues to hold prisoner his constituent, 32-year-old Amir Hekmati, among other U.S. citizens.

Hekmati, raised in Michigan, traveled to Iran in 2011 to visit his grandmothers and was there nearly three weeks before authorities arrested, tried and sentenced him to death for spying. U.S. officials and Hekmati have repeatedly denied he’s a spy.

“Some have suggested that the fate of Amir Hekmati and the other innocent American political prisoners held in Iran be tied to the nuclear deal; however, I do not support this approach,” Kildee said.

He said Hekmati’s freedom should not come at the cost of “something that presumably makes the world a less safe place.”

“Simply, he is innocent, has committed no crime, and Iran needs to unilaterally release him,” Kildee said of Hekmati.

Hekmati’s sister, Sarah Hekmati, on Thursday praised Kildee’s “tireless” work to raise awareness of her brother’s situation and fight for his release.

“Amir’s release is personal for him. For that, we are blessed and fortunate,” Sarah said in a statement. “While we are not a political family, we do know that Amir’s release would help increase support of the deal in the Congress.”

mburke@detroitnews.com

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