Iran Deal Opponent Not Ready to Scrap It

Chuck SchumerChuck Schumer

Senior US Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer is putting US president-elect Donald Trump on notice: Just because the incoming Senate Minority Leader opposed President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran does not mean he will work with Trump to dismantle it.

Schumer, who infuriated liberal groups by opposing the Iran pact last year, told Politico on Friday that while he remains “skeptical” of the agreement, “it would be wrong to repeal it now”. His warning comes as other detractors of the deal also urge Trump to keep the deal intact, despite the president-elect’s campaign vow to scrap it.

“I’m willing to try. I think the jury’s still out and I’m willing to wait another year or two,” Schumer said in an interview in his Capitol Hill office, two days after the New Yorker officially took the helm of Democrats’ 48-member caucus for the next Congress.

Trump has not addressed his plans for the Iran deal since his election victory. The carefully negotiated pact hinges on an array of executive orders that lift sanctions against Iran as a tradeoff for scaling back its nuclear program.

“I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal,” Republican Representative Mike Pompeo, Trump’s choice to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, tweeted on Thursday.

Winning the support of staunchly pro-Israel Schumer for his Iran policy would be a major foreign policy boost for Trump who repeatedly vowed to unravel the nuclear pact and renegotiate it on more favorable terms. “This was a deal at the highest level of incompetence,” Trump said in September.

  Support for Stronger Sanctions

Schumer did not close the door to working with Trump and the GOP on strengthening sanctions against Iran that were not related to the terms of the nuclear deal.

He indicated support for stronger sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program, which Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham are expected to propose early next year.

Senate Democrats also would support an extension of sanctions against Tehran along the lines of a bill that passed the House Tuesday on a 419-1 vote, Schumer said.

“I studied this carefully” before coming out against the Iran pact in 2015, Schumer said. “What I think it hinged on for me and for others is, would the [Iranian government] moderate if there’s this agreement? The jury’s out.”

However, Schumer added, taking Obama’s deal apart quickly would be a mistake.

“I think we need a little more time to determine what’s right or wrong,” he said.


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