Democratic Senator to Trump: Don't cancel Iran deal

Senator Ben Cardin urges Trump administration not to pull out of Iran deal, despite being opposed to it earlier.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Ben Cardin
Ben Cardin

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), the top Democrat on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, is urging the Trump administration not to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, despite being one of a handful of Senate Democrats who opposed the deal to begin with, JTA reported on Wednesday.

“If we violate a UN resolution, in the eyes of the international community, do we have any credibility?” Cardin asked Wednesday at a monthly meeting he holds with foreign policy reporters, referring to the Security Council resolution that undergirds the deal.

“I don’t understand the strategy to set up the potential of the United States walking away from a nuclear agreement,” he added.

Cardin, who is Jewish, was one of four Senate Democrats who opposed the 2015 deal, which trades sanctions relief for Iran’s rollback of its nuclear program.

Last year, he was one of 12 Democratic senators who called for an extension of the existing sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Cardin on Wednesday warned the administration to stick to the deal as long as Iran is abiding by it. President Donald Trump has called the agreement one of the worst he ever encountered and intimated he might cancel it or at least open it up to renegotiation.

Trump repeated his criticism of the deal in his speech at the UN General Assembly last week, calling the agreement "an embarrassment" to the U.S. and "one of worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into."

Cardin on Wednesday said he was speaking for many opponents of the deal.

“We thought it was the wrong decision,” he said, “but we want to see it implemented.”

Trump is due to update Congress by October 15 on whether Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal.

Should Trump say that Iran is not in compliance with the deal, Congress would have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions waived under the deal.

While he recently confirmed that Iran is adhering to the nuclear agreement, he and other officials in the administration stressed that the President still has reservations about the deal.

Last week, Trump indicated to reporters that he had made a decision on the matter, but would not provide further details.

Cardin opined on Wednesday that kicking the ball to Congress would be an abdication of executive responsibility.

“This is not a congressional agreement, this is an agreement entered into by the president,” he said, according to JTA.

The report noted that the resistance to ending the deal is not confined to Democrats. The top foreign policy Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Ed Royce of California, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said earlier this month that he would prefer to keep the deal in place. He added that Trump should “enforce the hell out of it.”

On Wednesday in the House, a Republican, Rep. Francis Rooney of Florida, and a Democrat, Gerald Connolly of Virginia, introduced a bill that would devolve oversight of the agreement on a bipartisan commission to include 16 lawmakers — equally split between Democrats and Republicans from the House and Senate — and four executive branch officials.