Clinton: All Bets Off If Congress Rejects Accord

Clinton: All Bets Off If Congress Rejects Accord Clinton: All Bets Off If Congress Rejects Accord

US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton made her most forceful defense yet of President Barack Obama's nuclear deal with Iran on Monday, saying "all bets are off" if the US Congress were to reject the deal and warning of the potential impact to the United State' standing in the world.

"The Europeans, the Russians, the Chinese, they're going to say, 'We stuck with the Americans. We agreed with the Americans. We hammered out this agreement. I guess their president can't make foreign policy,'" Clinton said at a campaign stop in Manchester, according to the Los Angeles Times. "That's a very bad signal to send in a quickly moving and oftentimes dangerous world."

Clinton noted how Iran was able to advance its program during the last Republican administration.

"When George W. Bush was president the Iranians mastered the nuclear fuel cycle," she said. "They also (built)… facilities and stocked them with centrifuges… That's what we inherited."

Clinton's advocacy on behalf of the landmark accord comes at a critical time for the Obama administration. A multimillion-dollar ad campaign is in the works to pressure Democrats in Congress to reject it when it comes up for a vote next month. Under the terms of the agreement, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program for specified periods in exchange for relief from international sanctions that have negatively affected its economy.

Obama is vacationing with his family on Martha's Vineyard, though he continues to tout the deal in interviews released in recent days, and Clinton, his former secretary of state, picked up the torch on the campaign trail.

"I've gone into this detail because you're going to hear a lot about it in the weeks ahead," she told an audience of more than 500 at the foot of a ski slope in New Hampshire's largest city. "So please, educate yourself… We have to pursue diplomacy if we expect to be able to solve difficult problems with the rest of the world supporting us."

  Senator Backs Deal    

Meanwhile, US Democratic Senator Brian Schatz said on Monday he backs the Iran deal, becoming the 16th senator to do so and moving Obama one vote closer to locking in enough Senate votes to make the deal fly, Reuters reported.

A liberal, Jewish-born lawmaker from Hawaii, Schatz had been expected to come down in favor of the deal. But his decision was noteworthy because it came just a few days after another Jewish senator, Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York, announced his opposition to the agreement.

Schumer's decision last week caused an uproar as he usually lines up behind the president. He is the No. 3 senator and wants to become Senate Democratic leader after the 2016 election.

In a statement, Schatz said he was backing the pact between Tehran and the six major powers (the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China) because it is the best option to curb Iran's nuclear program.

Iran denies the charge that it may be seeking a nuclear weapons capability, saying the program is entirely for peaceful applications.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes the agreement, as do some Jewish groups in the United States.

Most Republicans have also said they oppose the deal, which was unveiled in Vienna on July 14.

Republicans plan to push for a congressional "resolution of disapproval" that could cripple the deal. Obama is pinning his hopes on Democrats, in the minority in both houses of Congress.

Several key votes on the deal are likely in weeks ahead after Congress returns from its August recess.

Schatz said no military option could do what the agreement would do.

"This agreement should not be compared to an imaginary deal where Iran rolled over and eliminated all its centrifuges and all peaceful nuclear energy generation. That was never seriously on the table," he said.

Congress has until Sept. 17 to vote on any resolution of disapproval of the agreement. After Schumer's announcement last week, Democrats said they were still confident they could rebuff Republican attempts to sink the agreement.