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Leahy Urges Support For Iran Nuclear Deal

Lauren Victoria Burke
Sen. Patrick Leahy, shown here in Washington, D.C., in April, is urging his colleagues to vote in support of a nuclear deal with Iran.

Senator Patrick Leahy is strongly defending President Obama's proposed nuclear agreement with Iran.  Leahy says the national security of the United States will be at stake if Congress rejects the deal.

Leahy's comments on the Senate floor come at a time when the Obama Administration is ramping up its campaign to convince Congress to support the agreement.

Under the deal, Iran will significantly reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium and centrifuges.

The agreement also lifts economic sanctions that have been imposed on Iran and there's a process to end the embargo on weapons and missile technology over a period of years.

Teams from the International Atomic Energy Agency will be able to make inspections to make certain that the Iranian government is in compliance with the agreement.

Some Congressional opponents of the deal argue that it will allow Iran to eventually develop nuclear weapons but Leahy says these critics are being very shortsighted.

"They ignore the fact that if Congress rejects this agreement, Iran can immediately resume its development of highly enriched uranium,” Leahy says. “They can build a nuclear weapon in far less than 15 years. And I'd ask, is that the alternative they support, or is it another war in the Middle East?"

Leahy says there's no question that Iran has committed many atrocious acts in the past, but he says the situation in the future will be much worse if Iran develops a nuclear weapon.

"As horrific as Iran's behavior is, it pales compared to the havoc Iran could wreak if it obtains a nuclear weapon." - Sen. Patrick Leahy

"As horrific as Iran's behavior is, it pales compared to the havoc Iran could wreak if it obtains a nuclear weapon. A nuclear-armed Iran could commit acts of terrorism that dwarf by thousands or even millions of times over those it engages today,” Leahy says.

Leahy urged his colleagues to vote for the agreement to help protect the national security of this country.

"We can strive to make this work, keeping in mind the vital national security interests at stake for our country, for our allies,” he said, “or we can impulsively sabotage the chance.

Congress is scheduled to vote on the agreement in September. If the House and Senate reject the deal, President Obama says he will veto that legislation. This means that the agreement will go into place unless Congress has enough votes to override the president's veto.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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