Lone Undecided Republican Sen. Opposes Deal

Lone Undecided Republican Sen. Opposes DealLone Undecided Republican Sen. Opposes Deal

US Senator Jeff Flake announced his opposition on Saturday to the Iran nuclear deal despite White House lobbying to try to convince the Arizona Republican to break from others in his party and back the accord when US lawmakers vote on it.

The agreement that Iran reached with the United States and other world powers on July 14 "does contain benefits in terms of limiting Iran's ability to produce sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon for a period of time, particularly at its known nuclear facilities," Flake said in a statement, Reuters reported.

"But these benefits are outweighed by severe limitations the (agreement) places on Congress and future administrations in responding to Iran's non-nuclear behavior in the region," Flake added.

Iran denies its nuclear work may have any military aspects, saying the work is solely for peaceful applications. Tehran has also made it clear it will continue backing its regional allies, stressing that it is the United States that needs to change its policy on the Middle East which has contributed to the aggravation of the security situation in the region.

The White House had held out some hope that Flake, a Senate Foreign Relations Committee member, would buck his party and possibly bring some other Republicans with him in support of the agreement. Flake was the only Republican lawmaker who traveled with President Barack Obama to Africa in July. White House officials lobbied him during that trip to support the deal. Flake had backed Obama's moves on another important foreign policy initiative, establishing warmer relations with Cuba.

  White House Silent

White House officials declined comment on Flake's decision but noted seven Democrats had come out in favor of the deal in the past week. When Congress returns to work on Sept. 8, debate will begin on a Republican-sponsored "resolution of disapproval" against the deal. That resolution is expected to pass. Obama is poised to veto such a measure, and would need 34 votes in the 100-seat Senate to block the override of that veto and preserve the Iran agreement.

The agreement would give Iran relief from economic sanctions in return for temporary limits on its nuclear program.

Flake backed the negotiations that produced the accord, but said, "I cannot vote in support of this deal." He said while Obama's administration has assured Congress it does not forfeit its ability to impose sanctions on Iran "for behavior on the non-nuclear side," those assurances do not square with the agreement's text.