The Press Democrat - Rep. Mike Thompson backs Iran nuclear deal
North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson said Wednesday he will vote for President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, calling it “the best way forward” to prevent the regime from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
The St. Helena Democrat said Obama’s proposal will halt Iran’s efforts for up to 15 years while giving the International Atomic Energy Agency “enormous access” for inspections the country will be bound to honor.
Thompson, a former senior member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said the diplomatic step was preferable to the other option — military force.
“While I do not trust Iran nor like their leadership, the president has correctly pointed out that you don’t negotiate peace agreements with those you know, like and trust,” Thompson said. “This deal is in the best interest of the United States and our allies, Israel included.”
Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, was on official business at the Arctic Circle in Alaska on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment, his spokesman said.
In a July statement, Huffman said he was undecided and would carefully analyze the proposal over the next 60 days before taking a position.
Thompson’s comments followed a speech Wednesday from the president in which he blasted critics of the deal. In an address at American University in Washington, Obama warned that the U.S. would be put on a path to war if Congress blocks the accord.
“The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some form of war,” Obama said. “Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon.”
On Capitol Hill, Republicans remained skeptical of the deal, saying U.S. military officials have never said that if the deal falls apart there would be military action. “I think everyone in the United States know that this president is not going to carry out military action against Iran. Iran knows that!” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Obama’s speech was part of an intense summer lobbying campaign by both supporters and opponents of the nuclear deal.
Congress’ September vote on the international accord to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in economic sanctions relief is one of the most crucial national security decisions lawmakers will make since the 2002 vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq.