The number of retired generals and admirals signing on to a letter to Congress rejecting the Iran nuclear deal continued to swell Thursday, with some 214 of the former high-level U.S. military officers putting their stamp on the document that asserts the “agreement will enable Iran to become far more dangerous” and “introduce new threats to American interests.”
The letter was initially sent to House and Senate leaders from both parties on Tuesday with 190 signatures — among them several individuals who’ve held high-level positions in past administrations, including former Navy Vice Admiral John Poindexter, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, who held various defense advisory positions during President Bill Clinton’s administration, is also a signatory.
The letter outlines a litany of complaints about the nuclear deal that Congress is slated to vote on whether to support or reject next month. “The agreement as constructed does not ‘cut off every pathway’ for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons,” the letter states. “To the contrary, it actually provides Iran with a legitimate path to doing that simply by abiding by the deal.”
The former military officials also assert that the deal is “unverifiable,” lamenting that the agreement allowed for a “secret side deal” between Iran and International Atomic Energy Agency that will ultimately prevent U.N. weapons inspectors “from reliably detecting Iranian cheating.”
There was no immediate reaction from Congressional leaders to the letter, which marks the latest in a growing list of memos sent to Capitol Hill by opponents — as well as proponents — of the nuclear accord in hopes of swaying lawmakers to support or reject the deal.
More than 120 wealthy Democratic donors, including Hollywood producer Norman Lear and former Clinton-Gore campaign chair Mickey Kantor, wrote to Democratic leaders on the hill in early August, urging them to express support for the nuclear accord.
That letter, reported at the time by Politico, was signed by members of the Democracy Alliance donor network and warned lawmakers that scuttling the deal “would put us back on a path to a nuclear-armed Iran, another costly military campaign — or both.”
While Republican leaders have vowed to fight the nuclear accord, on Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid became the highest-profile Democrat on Capitol Hill to endorse the deal, assuring in a posting on his website that he will attempt to sway other members of his party.
Congress is expected to vote in the coming weeks on whether to try and block the Obama administration from carrying through with broad sanctions relief provided for Iran under the terms of the accord, which several world leaders reached with the Islamic republic in July.
But even if there is strong bipartisan disapproval of the accord by Congress it won’t stop President Obama from implementing the agreement, according to analysts, who say the president will still have broad executive authority to ease many sanctions on Iran by himself.
Such factors have done little to stop former officials, lobbyists and others from calling on lawmakers to take a stand one way or another on the issue.
This week’s letter was signed by retired generals and admirals who served in both Democrat and Republican administrations over the past 40 years.
Mr. Poindexter is among the more famous. While he later served at the Pentagon under President George W. Bush, the former Reagan administration official is perhaps best known for his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair of the mid-1980s.