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Congressman Jerry McNerney

Representing the 9th District of California

Rep. McNerney Announces Support for Iran Nuclear Agreement

Aug 20, 2015
Press Release

Washington – Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) today issued the following statement to announce his support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear agreement reached between the P5+1 nations and Iran:

“The ability of a nuclear-armed Iran to foster further turmoil and insecurity in the Middle East is a threat to the security of our entire global community.  At the same time, any efforts to block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon must be crafted in America’s best national interest.

“Those are the sentiments I expressed when President Obama first announced the international nuclear agreement with Iran a little more than a month ago. Protecting the safety and well-being of our country is my top priority. That is the mindset in which I reviewed and scrutinized the provisions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). After a very thorough assessment of the agreement and supporting materials as well as discussions with experts, Obama Administration officials, and constituents, I have decided that I will vote to support the Iran nuclear agreement.

“I previously supported heavy sanctions against Iran as a means to block them from building a nuclear weapon. These sanctions alone, however, were not enough to stop Iran’s ongoing nuclear pursuit. Further diplomatic efforts with Iran became necessary, and those multilateral talks resulted in the JCPOA currently before Congress.

“I support this agreement because I believe the security of the United States will be better served if it is accepted by Congress. Standing together with our international partners, this agreement takes significant steps to deter Iran from building a nuclear weapon. It also still allows us to protect the interests of Israel and our other allies in the region.

“Iran currently has a two-month breakout time to produce a nuclear weapon. The agreement negotiated by the P5 +1 countries will require Iran to reduce its stockpiles of nuclear materials and refining capacity to about a one-year breakout time with a very intrusive inspection program to enforce the terms. After 10 years, some of the restrictions will begin to lift, but this will not be without constraints or verification processes to meticulously monitor Iran’s nuclear program.

“If in that time Iran decides to break out and develop a nuclear weapon, it will take one year for them to do so.  At the same time, the inspection requirements built into the agreement will have provided the United States with better capabilities to detect any questionable activity and take whatever action is necessary to stop Iran. Those provisions will put our country in a better, more secure position in 10 years than that of having no deal with Iran today.

“I have also reviewed the tenants of the agreement through a scientific lens, given my background and experience as an engineer working at Sandia National Laboratories. Many scientists and engineers have endorsed this agreement, calling it a ‘guidepost’ for future nuclear non-proliferation negotiations. Nuclear proliferation is an existential threat to all nations and humanity. Non-proliferation agreements, like the JCPOA, can help promote peace and security in the Middle East and also around the world.

“Regarding Iran’s participation in terrorism and other hostile activities, this agreement does nothing to prevent the United States from taking appropriate actions to punish or further sanction Iran in the future. With or without the agreement, our nation must stay vigilant, keeping a watchful eye for any aggression on Iran’s part that threatens the region or any of our allies through terrorist activities. And we should consider any necessary additional steps needed to maintain peace and security in the region.   

“I believe that should Congress fail to approve the JCPOA, the chances of Iran continuing to restrain its nuclear ambitions and returning to the table are slim. The better course of action is for Congress to accept the agreement and to closely monitor its implementation to ensure that Iran abides by the terms and obligations and works diplomatically to improve the stability and security of the Middle East.”

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Rep. Jerry McNerney proudly serves the constituents of California’s 9th Congressional District that includes portions of San Joaquin, Contra Costa, and Sacramento Counties. For more information on Rep. McNerney’s work, follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @RepMcNerney.