- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 8, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said Tuesday that he will oppose the nuclear deal with Iran.

Manchin previously spoke favorably of the deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from economic sanctions.

But in a conference call Tuesday with West Virginia reporters, Manchin said the Iranian regime has shown no signs of changing its behavior and the deal involving world power does “nothing to guarantee that behavior changes.”

Democrats clinched key Senate votes Tuesday to block passage of a disapproval resolution against the nuclear accord, with 41 Democratic and independent senators now agreeing to support President Barack Obama. It remained uncertain whether all those senators now on record in favor of the deal would also support a filibuster to block a final vote on a resolution opposing the agreement.

Supporters already have enough votes to uphold Obama’s veto of a disapproval resolution, if it becomes necessary.

“I do not believe that supporting this deal will prevent Iran from eventually acquiring a nuclear weapon or continuing to be a leading sponsor of terrorism against Americans and our allies around the world,” Manchin said in a prepared statement.

Manchin is the fourth Democrat to oppose the international accord, joining Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Ben Cardin of Maryland.

Congress returns to work on Tuesday and the Iran deal is the first order of business.

After Manchin revealed his opposition to the deal Tuesday, three Democrats seen as potential “no” votes on the deal all announced they would support it. Those senators were Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Gary Peters of Michigan.

The West Virginia Republican Party criticized Manchin for opposing the deal after previously showing support.

“Two months ago, Manchin was eager to support the deal,” state GOP chairman Conrad Lucas said. “Now that Obama has secured enough votes, Manchin gets a pass.”

Manchin batted away contentions that his position was strictly political. He said he was undecided until this weekend.

“We have nothing in there that stops the aggression and terrorism, except our commitment and nobody else signing onto it,” Manchin said. “That gives me, probably, as much, if not more, doubt than anything else, and that’s what I heard the most from West Virginia.”

West Virginia’s Republican U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito has already said she is against the deal.

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