House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wondered Thursday whether opponents of President Obama’s Iran nuclear program agreement read the deal before coming out in opposition to it, and said she’s certain she can keep enough Democrats in line to sustain an Obama veto and preserve his policy.
Praising both Mr. Obama and former President George W. Bush, who she said began building the international coalition that first imposed sanctions and then earlier this month agreed to the deal with Iran, Mrs. Pelosi said she was confident the opponents’ campaign to try to defeat the deal in Congress will fail.
She also questioned opponents’ motives.
“You wonder why. Have they even read it? It looks political to me,” she said.
She was quick to say she wasn’t questioning the sizable number of Democrats in Congress who appear to be leaning against the deal, saying she still respects them, saying her criticism was aimed only at unnamed outside groups.
Republicans have said they can’t read the entire deal because Mr. Obama hasn’t submitted all of it to them yet. They said full submission was a condition of the terms the president himself agreed to in signing the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act earlier this year, yet certain side agreements between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran haven’t been provided to Congress.
The administration has instead offered to brief lawmakers on the outlines of those side agreements.
Congress will vote in September on whether to approve the deal Mr. Obama and other major international powers struck to try to get Iran to suspend its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions, which will give the Islamic Republic’s economy a massive boost and give it access to billions of dollars of money that have been frozen for years in overseas accounts.
Lawmakers are likely to reject the deal in an initial vote, with Mr. Obama then vetoing that rejection and sending it back to Congress, which must then try to muster a two-thirds vote in both chambers to halt U.S. participation in the agreement.
Mrs. Pelosi said she’ll be able to hold enough House Democrats with her to sustain the president’s policy.
“More and more of them have confirmed to me they’ll be there to sustain the veto,” she said.
She said the deal was a “diplomatic masterpiece” in that it kept the international coalition united, and said she believes it will achieve the goal of suspending Iran’s nuclear program. If not, she said, the inspections regime should catch any backsliding.
And she said she has a track record of correctly evaluating these situations, pointing back to the run-up to the Iran war, when she led opposition from House Democrats to authorizing Mr. Bush to attack Saddam Hussein’s regime.
She said she’d seen the intelligence and knew doubts about weapons of mass destruction were well-founded.
• Stephen Dinan can be reached at email@example.com.
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