Former Sen. Levin backs U.S. Iran nuclear deal
Washington — Former Michigan U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, who was chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said Thursday he backs an Obama administration deal aimed at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
His endorsement follows that of his brother, Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, and comes as the White House is working to convince Michigan’s two undecided senators, Debbie Stabenow of Lansing and Gary Peters of Bloomfield Township, to endorse the seven-nation deal.
Levin and former Sen. John Warner, R-Va., wrote in a Politico op-ed that they “support the Iran Agreement negotiated by the United States and other leading world powers for many reasons, including its limitations on Iran’s nuclear activities, its strong inspections regime, and the ability to quickly re-impose sanctions should Iran violate its provisions.”
Earlier this week, two top Obama administration officials made the case for a deal aimed at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, as four freshman members of Congress from Michigan take part in a congressional trip to Israel.
They said by rejecting the deal reached with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China “would weaken the deterrent value of America’s military option.”
Levin and Warner wrote that “If Iran pursues a nuclear weapon, some believe that military action is inevitable if we’re to prevent it from reaching its goal. We don’t subscribe to that notion, but we are skeptical that, should Iran attempt to consider moving to a nuclear weapon, we could deter them from pursuing it through economic sanctions alone.”
The problem, they wrote, is that if the United States rejects the deal, it will be largely alone in imposing sanctions
“Iran would effectively argue to the world that it had been willing to negotiate an agreement, only to have that agreement rejected by a recalcitrant America,” they wrote. “In that world, should we find credible evidence that Iran is starting to move toward a nuclear weapon, the United States would almost certainly consider use of the military option to stop that program.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz met with two dozen regional newspaper reporters at the White House on Monday, a month ahead of a congressional vote on whether to reject the deal. Israel strongly opposes the deal.
“We will know what they are doing,” Kerry said, saying a better deal is not possible. “We believe it gets the job done.” He emphasized the U.S. “will know if they try to break out” and secretly develop a nuclear weapon.
The offices of Reps. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield; Dave Trott, R-Birmingham; Mike Bishop, R-Rochester; and John Moolenaar, R-Midland, confirmed they are among nearly 60 U.S. lawmakers meeting with Israeli and Palestinian government officials on a Middle East trip. Some members began the trip last week; others are going this week, with visits to conclude Sunday.
Lawrence is undecided, while Trott, Bishop and Moolenaar have all said they oppose the Iran deal. Another Michigan member, Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, is also undecided.
Opponents need to muster two-thirds of the House and Senate to block the deal, which was approved by the United Nations Security Council on a 15-0 vote.
Moniz and the top State Department negotiator in the Iran talks, Wendy Sherman, met with about 40 members of Metro Detroit’s Jewish community last Thursday night in Birmingham along with the state’s two undecided senators.