- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 4, 2017

More than 100 House Democrats are ramping up congressional pressure on the Trump administration to re-certify the controversial Obama-era nuclear deal between Washington and Iran, arguing a U.S. withdrawal from the pact would put America and its allies at greater risk.

Led by Florida Democrat Rep. Ted Deutch and Rep. David Price, a North Carolina Democrat, roughly 180 lawmakers signed onto a letter sent to the White House Wednesday, calling upon Mr. Trump to certify the deal, which is due Oct. 15.

In the letter, lawmakers noted there has been no tangible evidence that Tehran has violated any elements of the nuclear pact, which allowed for greater oversight into Iran’s nuclear enrichment programs in exchange for eased political and economic sanctions.

Noting the block of House Democrats who signed onto Wednesday’s letter were not all in favor of the deal brokered by President Obama and then Secretary of State, Reps. Deutch and Price made clear the nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JPCoA, remains Washington’s best option to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“Enforcing this agreement to the fullest extent will provide the United States with more leverage to stop a potential Iranian nuclear weapons program and push back on Iran’s destabilizing activities,” they wrote.

“Absent credible and accurate information confirming a material breach … walking away from the JCPoA would harm our alliances, embolden Iran and threaten U.S. national security,” they added. The lawmakers’ comments echoed those of Defense Secretary James Mattis, who told congressional lawmakers Tuesday that retaining the Iran deal is critical to U.S. national security interests.

“If we can confirm that Iran is living by the agreement, if we can determine that this is in our best interest, then clearly we should stay with it,” he told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I believe at this point in time, absent indications to the contrary, it is something the president should consider staying with,” he added.

Top diplomats from several of Washington’s strongest European allies say there has been no evidence of Tehran not complying with the transparency and oversight requirements on its nuclear program included in the deal.

New Mexico Democrat Sen. Martin Heinrich suggested Tuesday that a withdrawal from the nuclear pact could put the United States in a position where Iran could continue to reap the benefits of eased economic sanctions, while Washington could lose what little visibility it has into Iran’s enrichment program via the nuclear deal.

When Sen. Heinrich asked Mr. Mattis whether such as scenario could become a reality, if the U.S. ends the nuclear pact, he replied: “If it is mishandled, yes Senator, that could happen.”

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