News ID: 251821
Published: 0338 GMT April 23, 2019

2020 Dems say they'd put US back in nuclear deal

2020 Dems say they'd put US back in nuclear deal

Most of the Democrats running for president are vowing to put the United States back in the Iran nuclear deal that President Trump withdrew from nearly a year ago.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently tweeted if Iran continues to abide by the terms of the deal, I will support returning to it.  

Warren, whose campaign pointed to the February tweet when contacted this month by The Hill, backed the Iran deal in a Senate vote like several of the other Democratic senators running for president, The Hill reported.

Trump angered US allies in Europe after he broke from the 2015 deal, arguing the pact endangered Israel and was poorly negotiated by the Obama administration. 

“This was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made,” Trump said in announcing his decision in May 2018. Former president Obama, in a rare response to Trump, said his successor’s decision would make the world less safe and war more likely.

Trump on Monday announced he will not renew sanctions waivers that allowed eight foreign governments to continue buying Iranian oil.

It’s not surprising that Democrats running for president would oppose Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran deal.

But the agreement itself was controversial, and Democrats were not united in backing it.

Four Senate Democrats – including Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (NY) – broke with Obama over the deal when the Senate voted on a measure that would have rejected it.

Israel was strongly opposed to the Iran deal, and Trump has signaled he intends to use his support for Israel as a wedge issue against any Democrat who runs against him next fall.

Still, while some Democrats are attaching qualifiers to their support for the deal, they all are indicating they’d seek to put the US back into the agreement.

And they are casting Trump’s decision to withdraw as a textbook case of his penchant for isolationism that they argue is damaging to US interests.

An aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders told the news site Al-Monitor last month that the candidate would “rejoin” the Iran deal “and would also be prepared to talk to Iran on a range of other issues, which is what Trump should’ve done instead of simply walking away.”

Sanders, considered a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, like Warren backed the deal in a 2015 vote in the Senate.

A spokesman for Sen. Kamala Harris told Al-Monitor she supports reentering the deal. Harris was not serving in the Senate when it voted on whether to block the deal from entering into force.

Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend, Ind., mayor who is rising in Democratic presidential polls, would rejoin the deal, a spokeswoman said. Buttigieg, who would have the least experience with the deal of all the top candidates in the race, “sees it as a floor not a ceiling,” the aide said, suggesting he would like negotiations to expand the agreement.

A spokesman for former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) said he supports rejoining the deal. During his failed Senate campaign last year, O’Rourke said the deal was “imperfect,” but that it “demonstrably makes the world and especially the Middle East a safer place.”

The other three senators in the race – Cory BookerKirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar – all voted in favor of the deal. So did Reps. Tim Ryan.

During a stop at the University of Colorado in Boulder over the weekend, Klobuchar cited the Iran deal as she talked about getting back in step with US allies.

“Joining in these international agreements, and climate change is one of them, but the other is getting back in the nuclear agreement with Iran and allies – that would be one example of that,” Klobuchar said.

The 2015 debate over whether to support the deal was heated, with pro-Israel lobbyists pushing hard against it and some high-ranking Democrats such as Schumer opposing it.

But things have changed since then, said Logan Bayroff, a spokesman for the progressive Jewish group J. Street.

For starters, he said, international inspectors have repeatedly found Iran to be in compliance with key aspects of the agreement.

Second, Trump’s decision to withdraw can be framed by Democrats as one of several moves that have alienated allies and “pander to a far-right political base,” Bayroff said.

“We just think this is a clear slam-dunk policy position for a Democrat,” he said, citing a May 2018 Morning Consult survey that found 68 percent of Democrats supported the deal.

Experts say bringing the US back into the deal could be done simply and with executive action, and that it would not require votes in Congress.

J. Street has been pushing an online petition calling on Democratic candidates to support reentering the deal, while highlighting on social media which ones have and have not voiced support.

Several long-shot presidential candidates also said they would put the US back in the deal, though a few raised caveats.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) said he would “lead negotiations” with Iran and the deal’s other signatories to return the United States to the agreement.

A spokesman for Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) said he would rejoin the deal, directing The Hill to his congressional record. Moulton voted in support of the deal in 2015 and in 2018 said Trump's withdrawal "turns our back on our allies" and "makes the world more dangerous."

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) said she would return to the deal, saying Trump's withdrawal "increases the likelihood of war and undermines talks with Kim Jong-un to denuclearize North Korea."

A spokesman for former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) said he would “seek” to rejoin the deal, but added Delaney would “look to strengthen aspects of the deal as part of reentering, including extending its duration.”

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro tweeted in March that “if Iran continues to comply with the terms of the agreement as determined by the intelligence community, I will reenter the US into the #JCPOA as President.”

A spokesman for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said “he would return to the deal.”

The Democratic National Committee adopted a resolution in February calling on the US to rejoin the agreement.

Experts say part of the reason Iran continues to follow the deal is because Tehran hopes Trump is a one-term president and that his successor rejoins the agreement.

But the Trump administration is putting increased pressure on Iran, most recently by ending the oil sanctions waivers. Trump also recently designated its Islamic Revolution Guards Corps a “foreign terrorist organization.”

US allies in Europe strongly opposed Trump’s decision to withdraw, and they have been scrambling to save the pact.


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