Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), a prominent Jewish Democrat, said Friday that he will support the nuclear agreement with Iran, boosting the Obama administration’s chances to avoid congressional attempts to halt the deal.
In a lengthy statement, Nadler said that the agreement, “for all its flaws, gives us the best chance of stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.”
Nadler’s endorsement came after he received a personal letter from President Obama this week, responding to concerns the congressman had publicly raised about the deal.
In the letter, Obama reaffirmed that numerous, nonnuclear U.S. sanctions against Iran would remain in place and that he was prepared to exercise military options in the future if Iran pursued a nuclear weapon.
Nadler said that he had carefully studied the agreement and analyses from both sides and had “sought to ignore the political pressures, as well as the demagoguery and hateful rhetoric on both sides that I think has been harmful to the overall political discourse.”
“I bring to my analysis the full weight of my responsibilities as a member of Congress, and my perspective as an American Jew who is both a Democrat and a strong supporter of Israel,” he said.
The Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has strongly criticized the nuclear agreement and pressed members of Congress to oppose it. American Jewish and pro-Israel organizations have led lobbying for and against the deal, with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee sponsoring a multimillion-dollar lobbying and advertising campaign to build public opposition.
Two other prominent New York Jewish Democrats, Sen. Charles E. Schumer and Rep. Eliot L. Engel, have announced that they will vote against the agreement.
The vote is due in mid-September, and disapproval of the deal is virtually certain, with a simple majority of Republican and some Democratic support. The administration hopes to sustain a veto that Obama has said he will issue. Congress requires a two-thirds vote of both houses to override a presidential veto.
In his letter to Nadler, first reported by the New York Times, Obama said it was his “steadfast conviction that a nuclear-armed Iran would present a profound security threat to us and to our partners, particularly Israel.” The completed deal, he wrote, “cuts off every pathway Iran could have to a nuclear weapon and creates the most robust verification regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program.”
The agreement “does not remove any of our options when it comes to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Obama wrote, adding that “my administration will take whatever means are necessary to achieve that goal, including military means.”