U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley: Why I Support the Iran Nuclear Agreement

Letters to Editors

The U.S. Senate will soon vote on whether to support or reject President Obama’s international agreement to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Every member of the Senate shares the common objective of stopping Iran from going nuclear.  That’s not in question.  The issue before us is whether the negotiated agreement is the best path to reaching our objective. I believe it is.

I’ve studied the agreement closely.  I’ve listened to experts and advocates on all sides.  The deal creates an effective framework for 15 years blocking Iran’s path to a bomb. With unprecedented inspections and monitoring, if Iran tries to cheat, we are very likely to know it, and can reimpose sanctions quickly.

But this deal is not without significant shortcomings and risks as well. We will need to pay close attention to Iran’s activities, and act decisively to counteract any failure of Iran to live up to the agreement. And we must step up our efforts to curb Iran’s destabilizing influence in the region and its support for terrorism.

The fact is, there is no better alternative. Rejecting this deal is unlikely to re-open negotiations. It would not lead to a “better” deal.  Rather, it would be most likely to leave Iran with either substantial sanctions relief or a growing nuclear program without any inspections. And in either case, we will be isolated and have fewer options and less leverage.

No foreign policy comes with guarantees, and there are both risks with the agreement and risks in rejecting it. Given the options available, the deal is the best option to achieving our goal of a nuclear-free Iran.  Learn more about my decision here.