Rep. Blumenauer Highlights Support of Iran Nuclear Agreement on House Floor

September 9, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC– Today on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) called on Congress to support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1.

To follow are Congressman Blumenauer’s remarks. Click here to watch his speech.

“Our vote on the nuclear agreement with Iran will be the most important decision I have made in Congress since voting against the disastrous Iraq war.

“I am under no illusions that the clerics and military that run Iran are friends of the United States. To the contrary, they are engaged in activities that are opposed to the United States’ interests and those of many of our friends and allies. This agreement does not resolve all our differences, change all of Iran’s troubling behavior, or provide greater freedom for its people. What it does do, however, is give the world at least 15 years of security to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

“It also demonstrates our ability to work with our international partners – France, Great Britain, Germany, especially Russia and China – to bring Iran to the negotiating table, to force them to make important concessions, and to retain the ability to re-impose crippling sanctions if they violate the agreement. It has a strong mechanism for surveillance and snapping back sanctions to give us confidence that it is strongly in the Iranians’ interest to comply.

“Fifteen years is not forever. But considering the current nuclear breakout time for Iran is less than 15 weeks, this agreement is a remarkable achievement.  And without any viable alternative, it’s the only option for those truly committed to a nuclear weapons-free Iran.

“The alternative is not a ‘better deal.’ There is no evidence that there is something beyond this agreement that the Iranians would agree with or, most critically, that has the support of the other five countries that made this agreement possible in the first place. The alternative to this deal is for the United States to lose the support of our allies so that Iran gets access to its money anyway as the international coalition dissolves, and this important moment to severely restrict Iran’s nuclear program is lost.

“Down the road, the United States still retains the ability to walk away from the deal if it is rejected or violated by Iran. If that should occur, we’ll be exactly where we’re at today, but our actions would be backed by the international community and legitimized by Iran’s intransigence. This deal gives us more leverage going forward.

“In the final analysis, the United States or Israel, for that matter, can always resort to military force. But it is far better, however, to make this agreement work, to monitor and enforce it, and build on the unique international partnership.

“Our work will not be done in the Middle East with Iran, even if this agreement is adopted and Iran abides by it. We still must be prepared to confront Iran where they are involved with aggressive action against other countries, especially our allies. We must be prepared to support our friends in the Middle East, like Israel. We must be prepared to make the diplomatic efforts and demonstrate commitment and resolve wherever it is necessary.

“Those who would resort to force in the first instance will always retain that option. We risk much less in blood and treasure by trying to make diplomacy, with rigorous inspections, work and to strengthen the partnership with countries that made this agreement possible, redoubling our ongoing efforts to stabilize this deeply troubled Middle East region.

“The agreement doesn't solve our problems, but it simplifies one of the greatest threats to the Middle East, not just Iranian nuclear weapons, but a potential nuclear arms race in the region with potentially catastrophic results.

“I am comfortable being in agreement with some of the most distinguished leaders of past American administrations, both Republican and Democratic, who have agreed, notwithstanding their reservations and cautions, that the acceptance of the Iran nuclear agreement is the best path forward for the United States and world peace.

“It is sad that, for the very first time, a critical American foreign policy decision has become so partisan in Congress. But the weight of evidence is for the agreement to be adopted, and we should do so.”