Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today released the following statement expressing his support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement between the P5+1 nations and Iran aimed at preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon:
“Since the beginning of the 60-day Congressional review period, I have engaged in lengthy, careful, and deliberative review of the JCPOA agreement in which I met with President Barack Obama, attended numerous classified congressional briefings, attended hearings as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, met with pro-Israel groups such as AIPAC and J Street, spoke with the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., read almost all related classified and unclassified documents, met frequently with other Jewish members to discuss the proposed deal, talked directly to constituents, and read every constituent e-mail and letter on this issue.
I have never studied an issue in such depth, and I have never been lobbied as hard. I believe that this is the most important vote that I will take while I am in Congress.
I have decided to support the JCPOA agreement because I believe it is the best chance we have at preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. I believe that this agreement is in the best security interests of my constituents, our nation, for Israel, and the world.
Iran must never have a nuclear weapon and the world cannot tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran. This agreement is the best method to accomplish that without the use of military force and the catastrophic violence this would unleash.
As the President pointed out to me, every nation in the world--except Israel--supports the agreement. And I agree with the President when he said that if the agreement fails in the Congress, the prestige of the United States as well as our ability to maintain international sanctions against Iran would be greatly weakened.
In addition to the President, I have also heard from many others, both supporters and opponents of the agreement.
Opponents of the agreement have argued that this is a bad deal for the U.S., a bad deal for the other P5+1 nations, and a bad deal for Israel.
I know it is not a perfect agreement. There are downsides to rejecting the agreement and downsides to accepting the agreement. I support the JCPOA because it is a way to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons without risking the almost certain spread of violence should a military, rather than diplomatic, solution be required. However, I remain concerned that Iran in 15 years will be in a stronger position to build a nuclear weapon and now has greater financial resources to engage in terrorist activities.
If Tehran violates the agreement, supporters of the JCPOA point out correctly that the agreement strengthens our case for action, and that effective diplomacy will have laid the groundwork for effective use of force if needed in the future.
Many supporters of the JCPOA share my concerns, but as some have pointed out, with the agreement in place, the pressure is on Iran to live up to international expectations. Congress blocking the agreement would reverse this, putting the U.S. under international pressure and making the U.S. look unreliable, ineffective, and weak.
While I believe that the JCPOA is a strong step forward toward a safer world, I also know that our efforts cannot stop with this one agreement.
During this review process I, along with a group of my colleagues, developed four main points we believed needed to be addressed by the Administration regarding the agreement and our foreign policy toward Iran. These included a permanent commitment from the Administration that Iran would never have nuclear weapons; continued support to, and cooperation with, Israel; the need for continued U.S. and international vigilance in countering Iran’s destabilizing activities; and, the establishment of an implementation office that would coordinate U.S. oversight of the agreement and provide regular briefings to Congress.
These concerns were sent to the President under the leadership of Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York.
I believe it is paramount that our nation's policy be unequivocal to the rest of the world: Iran will never be allowed to possess nuclear weapons.
The President, in his August 20th response to Congressman Nadler’s letter, reaffirmed this, as well as making clear that all options including unilateral economic sanctions and military force remain on the table to ensure Iran never acquires nuclear weapons--agreement or no agreement.
As a Jewish Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, I am proud of our unbreakable bond with Israel, built on our common foundation of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Israel is without question the United States' closest ally in the region, and one of our closest friends in the world.
I was heartened to read the President's affirmation of our nation's continued support and dedication to strengthen the defense and intelligence capabilities of Israel--our longest and most trusted ally in the Middle East.
I also believe it was a critical step forward for the President to detail, as he did in the letter, the multilateral, unilateral, and incremental economic sanction options available to the U.S. in the event Iran violates the P5+1 agreement.
The President also stated his intention to order the State Department to create a JCPOA implementation office, headed by a senior official, to coordinate our nation’s oversight efforts in regards to the agreement and to regularly brief Congress.
I sincerely thank the President for his thoughtful and timely response to the serious concerns raised by myself and other Members of Congress.
We have all--on both sides of the issue--drawn a line that states, without exception, Iran must never be allowed to possess nuclear weapons. I choose to support the President and enforce that line through the diplomacy of this agreement because it offers the best security for our nation and allies, and offers the least risk of violent conflict which would benefit no one.”