Alaska’s U.S. senators assail Iran deal

Photo: USGS
Photo: USGS

Republicans in the U.S. Senate Republicans on Thursday failed to get enough votes to advance a resolution rejecting the nuclear accord with Iran. The debate continues next week. Both Alaska senators spoke out against the deal.

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Sen. Dan Sullivan says the promised inspections aren’t serious and that the Obama administration gave up to too much in the negotiations.

“At a certain point concessions become humiliations!” he said Thursday on the Senate floor, after the procedural vote failed. “If they are too significant and too frequent, concessions are humiliations. No one likes to be humiliated.”

Sullivan says when he was in Alaska over the August recess, not a single constituent asked him to support the accord. The senator says veterans especially have a visceral opposition to the deal, a reaction he says lawmakers should heed.

“People feel our concessions have gone so far, it’s as if we’re treating Iran as an equal, and Iran is not an equal to the United States of America.”

Sullivan says the Senate’s Iran debate is really about the role of the United States in the world.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski also criticized the accord.

“This is a deal that borders on capitulation and appeasement, adeal that rewards nuclear extortion,” she said. “Those are pretty tough words, but that’s where I feel we are. A deal which is far worse than no deal at all.”

Murkowski says the agreement would allow Iran to rebuild its economy and stay on the path to a nuclear weapon. She favors continued sanctions instead.

“I absolutely reject out of hand the statement from our president that we have no choice, that it is either this deal or it is war,” she said. “That is a false choice, and I think it is wrong to put it that way before the American people.”

Other senators had equally passionate speech in favor of the deal. Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders says it’s easy to sound tough and to start wars, but harder to recognize the concequences. Sanders says many of today’s Iran hawks also championed the invasion of Iraq, which he calls a tragic blunder. Sanders, who is running for president, says he hoped for a stronger deal.

“But to my mind it is far better than the path we were on, with Iran developing nuclear weapons capability and the potential for military intervention by the United States and Israel growing greater by the day,” he said.

The House today soundly defeated a bill to approve the Iran accord. Alaska Congressman Don Young voted with opponents of the deal.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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