Powell: Iran Pact a 'Pretty Good Deal'

Powell: Iran Pact a 'Pretty Good Deal'Powell: Iran Pact a 'Pretty Good Deal'

Former US secretary of state Colin Powell expressed support for the nuclear agreement with Iran on Sunday, calling the various planks Tehran accepted "remarkable" and dismissing critics' concerns over its implementation.

"It's a pretty good deal," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press".

Critics concerned that the deal will expedite Iran's nuclear activities, Powell added, are "forgetting the reality that [Iran has] been on a superhighway, for the last 10 years, to create a nuclear weapon or a nuclear weapons program, with no speed limit."

Tehran denies it may have been seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability under the guise of a civilian program, saying the work is entirely for peaceful applications.

Powell said the reduction in centrifuges, Iran's uranium stockpile and their agreement to redesign their plutonium reactor were all "remarkable."  

"These are remarkable changes, and so we have stopped this highway race that they were going down — and I think that's very, very important," Powell said.

He also pushed back on skeptics who have expressed worries about the ability of independent inspectors to verify that Iran is following the agreement.

"I think a very vigorous verification regime has been put into place."

"I say, we have a deal, let's see how they implement the deal. If they don't implement it, bail out. None of our options are gone," Powell added.

Last Wednesday, Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski came out in support of the deal giving US President Barack Obama the 34 Democratic votes he would need in the senate to sustain a veto of a likely Republican-backed resolution disapproving the accord and all but ensuring its implementation.

Powell noted that, even if the deal did fail in Congress, other nations who were party to the nuclear negotiations have already agreed to it, making it impossible for the US to sit out.

"Even if we were to kill the deal — which is not going to happen — it's going to take effect anyway, because all of these other countries that were in it with us are going to move forward," he said.

"They're all going to be moving forward — we're going to be sitting on the sidelines."

Obama tweeted a thank you to Powell later in the day.

"Thank you, Colin, for putting your experience and expertise behind this important initiative for our country," Obama tweeted.

  Key Democratic Backing  

Meanwhile, Democratic Party Chairwoman and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Sunday she will vote in favor of Obama's nuclear deal with Iran.

"In weighing everything, all the information, I've concluded the best thing to do is vote in support of the Iran deal and put Iran years away from being a nuclear state [an ambition categorically denied by Iran]," Wasserman Schultz, the first Jewish-American woman to represent Florida in Congress, told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union."

The vote gives Obama key support as he looks to build consensus among Democrats as Congress returns this week, with debate on the deal being top of the agenda.