Iran Deal: Ted Lieu, California Democrat, Will Oppose

Ted Lieu (Kris Connor / Getty)
Kris Connor / Getty

Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) joined the ranks of a growing number of Democrats opposed to the Iran deal on Wednesday.

Lieu, an Air Force Veteran, issued a 23-page, in-depth statement detailing why, “with a heavy heart,” he will vote against the nuclear agreement.

Soon I will be voting on the JCPOA. Based on the totality of information I have considered, I will be opposing the JCPOA because I believe it is more likely than not that the JCPOA will turn out to be a bad deal.

Ultimately this is a vote of conscience and I cannot in good conscience vote for a deal–absent fundamental regime change–that gives Iran a legal path to a vast nuclear infrastructure and lifts two crucial arms control provisions, the arms embargo and the ballistic missile ban. My conscience is clear. I will oppose the JCPOA.

Invoking the failed North Korea negotiations, Lieu wrote that “[i]n hindsight, the US should not have trusted North Korea.” He said that the Iran deal actually increases the chances of war, not decrease it. “[V]oting against the JCPOA will not result in war, it will result in more diplomacy,” Lieu wrote.

After considerable thought and study, I have concluded the JCPOA increases the chances of more regional conflict and US entanglement in the Middle East in the short term, and a lengthy, difficult and more deadly war with Iran in the long term.

He laid out three consequences of the JCPOA that are most troubling to him:

1. Years 1 to 4: Regional wars and conflicts in the short term will likely occur as a direct result of Iran’s cash infusion of $50 to $100 billion towards funding its state-sponsorship of terrorism through its proxies like Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis in Yemen.

2. Years 5 to 8: In the medium term, Lieu suggests regional wars and conflict could get even more lethal because by that time the five year arms embargo and eight year ballistic missile ban would both be lifted and Iran will likely provide these weapons to their terrorist proxies.

3. Years 8.5 to 15+: Lieu argued that in the long term, Iran’s breakout time goes down to nearly zero which leads to an even deadlier war because of their ability to create not just one nuclear weapon, but many “along with the potential ability to deliver those weapons onto American soil with intercontinental ballistic missiles.”

Ultimately, Lieu said Obama’s nuclear agreement “exposes America to a grave, potentially existential threat that would be unlikely to occur but for this deal.” Additionally, he noted that while he is “neither as optimistic as many supporters nor as pessimistic as many opponents of the deal,” he does “agree with opponents that there is no current evidence the Iranian regime intends to moderate,” as the Obama administration has suggested this deal would help Iran achieve.

It is offensive to compare supporters of the Iran Deal to Neville Chamberlain. It is equally offensive to call opponents of the Iran Deal warmongers… Supporters do not support the JCPOA because they want appeasement and opponents do not oppose the JCPOA because they want war. It is time for both sides to stop using vitriolic rhetoric.

Lieu also highlighted his concern that the Iran deal reduces Congress’s constitutional role in foreign policy:

The Framers created Congress–the branch closest to the people–as a coequal branch of government. I believe Con- gress must do an independent review on the merits rather than accept as a fait accompli any in- ternational agreement that is placed before it by the Executive Branch.

Ultimately, Lieu said despite his opposition, that if the deal is to be implemented he will work with the administration.

“I respect the Constitution and I respect our President. If the JCPOA goes into effect, I will certainly work with this Administration to implement the JCPOA and minimize the negative consequences I believe will occur as a result of the agreement.”

His statement can be found here in its entirety.

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