US President secures support of 34 votes to protect Iran nuclear deal in Congress | News | DW | 02.09.2015
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US President secures support of 34 votes to protect Iran nuclear deal in Congress

The 34th member of the US Senate has backed the Iran nuclear deal. Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski might be the key to President Barack Obama avoiding an embarrassing domestic defeat.

Democrats in the US Senate have gathered the 34 votes needed to make safe the administration's Iran nuclear deal.

Senator Barbara Mikulski issued a lengthy statement on Wednesday, saying she had fully researched the issue.

"I've asked if we reject this deal, what the alternatives are that would be effective and achievable. I've considered the alternatives very closely," Mikulski said. "But in the end, they don't present a more viable option to this deal. The two alternatives are more sanctions, or military action."

"It's unclear if the European Union, Russia, China, India and others would continue sanctions if Congress rejects this deal," the Senator commented. "At best, sanctions would be porous, or limited to unilateral sanctions by the U.S."

Mikulski said the agreement was the best way to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions so long as Israel's interests were maintained. "No deal is perfect, especially one negotiated with the Iranian regime. I have concluded that this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the best option available to block Iran from having a nuclear bomb," Mikulski said. "For these reasons, I will vote in favor of this deal," she confirmed in a statement.

Backing Obama

Mikulski, the Senator for Maryland, joined 33 others who have committed to uphold the President's veto of a resolution put forward by Republicans who disapprove of the deal. Congress is to vote on the resolution later this month. The Republicans would need a two-thirds majority in the 100-seat Senate in order to overrule Obama's veto.

Thirty-two Senate Democrats and two independents who vote with the Democrats now back the agreement with Iran.

The resolution would also fail outright if the number of supporters rises to 41 members in the Senate. They would then be able to block it using a procedural motion. There are a further 10 Democrats in the Senate who have not declared their position.

The agreement was announced on July 14 after 17 days of almost uninterrupted negotiations in Vienna involving the foreign ministers of Iran, the US, the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany together with the EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini. Under the terms of the agreement, there will be relief from international sanctions for Iran in exchange for Tehran's agreeing to curtail its nuclear program.

Mikulski's decision came a day after Senators Chris Coons of Delaware and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania also announced they would support the deal.

jm/msh (AP, Reuters)