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Rhode Island Senators Join Ranks of Iran Deal Supporters

Reed announced his support for the Iran deal on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Hours after a Senate Democrat announced his opposition to the Iran deal, two more have come out in support.  

Rhode Island Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse came together Tuesday to announce that they would support the agreement. Reed, an Army veteran and West Point graduate, is the ranking member on the Armed Services Committee.  

"I support the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] because it cuts off Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon and gives international inspectors unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and supply chains," Reed said in a statement. "It establishes strong enforcement and vigilant verification mechanisms that — in combination with our intelligence capabilities, and those of our allies — increase our ability to detect covert activity."  

The support of the two Rhode Islanders became public not long after Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., delivered a blistering speech against the deal, saying that his vote to disapprove of the international agreement would ultimately be akin to his opposition to the war in Iraq.  

But the tide is on the side of the Obama administration and Democrats like Reed and Whitehouse, not Menendez.  

"Short of war, with all its dramatic uncertainties and terrible costs, I do not see another pathway to impose a nuclear weapons-free Iran. I have heard the unified commitments of all the other involved governments that they will be strong partners to enforce this nuclear weapons agreement and to ramp up enforcement under other international agreements against Iran's terror activities," Whitehouse said in his statement. "I have no reason to disbelieve all five governments speaking together. I have heard their warnings that if we walk away from this agreement before even giving it a try, the prospect of further multilateral negotiations yielding any better result is 'far-fetched.'"  

Like many other lawmakers pledging support for the agreement, Reed said the plan is the best of a set of imperfect options.  

"If Iran cheats, they will be isolated, international sanctions snap back, and we will have better intelligence, a broader coalition, and a stronger case for swift, forceful action. But if Congress derails the Iran nuclear agreement it could be a costly, strategic mistake that would likely end strong international sanctions and leave Iran’s nuclear ambitions unchecked," Reed said.  

The support of Reed and Whitehouse brings the number of Democratic caucus members supporting the agreement with Iran about its nuclear program to 23. Another 11 and the deal will be in the bag.

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