PA-Sen: Casey Explains His Support of the Iranian Nuclear Deal

U.S.-IranAfter becoming the 33rd senator to announce support of the president’s nuclear deal with Iran, PA Sen. Bob Casey sat down with Vox to walk through his decision-making process.

Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware followed Casey’s lead in supporting the deal, stripping Congress’ power to override Pres. Barack Obama’s expected veto of their disapproval to the agreement.

Still, Casey said he doesn’t necessarily see it as a done deal.

“One of the things I’ve learned is that even when something is enacted, your work is just beginning,” Casey said. “We’re going to have to have more than a quarter-century of vigilance on this.”

Though the pressure from constituents and stakeholder groups was “intense” throughout the process – he even took calls while moving his daughters into college – Casey said he came to the decision mostly on his own.

“I kept staring into the face of that fact, which is, ‘They are two to three months from breakout – what the hell are you going to do about it?'” Casey said. “You can’t just say, ‘They won’t make a bomb” because you don’t know that.”

The oversight and surveillance aspects of the nuclear deal pushed PA’s senior Senator to support the deal, with new technology and unprecedented access to nuclear sites.

“What’s lost in the sanctions debate is that Iran has to implement 36 different items, which then have to be verified by the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency],” Casey said. “Listening to people on television, you’d think they get sanctions relief immediately, but they’ve got to jump through lots of hoops.”

Casey insisted the deal with Iran would have no effect on America’s “unshakeable, unbreakable” relationship with Israel, though Israel was biggest opponent to the deal. Casey also emphasized the need to get the deal’s implementation right.

“We have to keep pushing folks to get to a place of common ground, which is that if the agreement is going to be in place, we need to make sure it works,” Casey said. “We’re going to have to do something that Congress doesn’t always do well – real, credible, substantive oversight.”

14 Responses

  1. Here is the other side David Diano’ explantion

    (1) In 1953, the Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh (Nationalist Party) nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), a British corporation, and changed the terms of the company’s access to Iranian petroleum reserves. The US and British governments orchestrated a coup in 1953. General Zahedi, was appointed prime minister and formed a new government which allowed the Shah of Iran to rule the country as monarch. The Shah relied heavily on United States support to hold power until his own overthrow in February 1979.

    (2) There is no evidence that the US provided chemical weapons to Iraq, ever. There is evidence that several other nations did provide Iraq precursors for VX, Sarin, Tabun, and mustarded gases during the Iraq-Iran War 1980-88 but never as surrogates or at the request or complicity of the US. The US did provide Iraq with overhead intelligence during the war. Central Intelligence Agency documents confirm that U.S. officials shared information about a planned breakthrough by Iran of a weak point in Iraq’s front lines. The CIA knew that Saddam Hussein’s military was likely to respond by attacking with the lethal nerve agent sarin and other chemical weapons — and he did, killing thousands. The Iranians were aware of Iraq’s chemical capability and refused to provide proper protective equipment during their human wave attacks.
    (3) The guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes did shoot down Iran Air Flight 655 on 3 July 1988, killing all 290 passengers and crew on-board.

    From the Washington Post, October, 2013: “The story of Iran Air 655 begins, like so much of the U.S.-Iran struggle, with the 1979 Islamic revolution. When Iraq invaded Iran in 1980, the United States supported Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein against the two countries’ mutual Iranian enemy. The war dragged on for eight awful years, claiming perhaps a million lives.

    Toward the end of the war, on July 3, 1988, a U.S. Navy ship called the Vincennes was exchanging fire with small Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. Navy kept ships there, and still does, to protect oil trade routes. As the American and Iranian ships skirmished, Iran Air Flight 655 took off from nearby Bandar Abbas International Airport, bound for Dubai. (The airport was used by both civilian and military aircraft.) The Vincennes mistook the lumbering Airbus A300 civilian airliner for a much smaller and faster F-14 fighter jet, perhaps in the heat of battle or perhaps because the flight allegedly did not identify itself. It fired two surface-to-air missiles, killing all 290 passengers and crew members on board.

    The horrible incident brought Tehran closer to ending the war, but its effects have lingered much longer than that. “The shoot-down of Iran Air flight 655 was an accident, but that is not how it was seen in Tehran,” former CIA analyst and current Brookings scholar Kenneth Pollack wrote in his 2004 history of U.S.-Iran enmity, “The Persian Puzzle.” “The Iranian government assumed that the attack had been purposeful. … Tehran convinced itself that Washington was trying to signal that the United States had decided to openly enter the war on Iraq’s side.”
    That belief, along with Iraq’s increased use of chemical weapons against Iran, led Tehran to accept a United Nations cease-fire two months later. But it also helped cement a view in Iran, still common among hard-liners in the government, that the United States is absolutely committed to the destruction of the Islamic Republic and will stop at almost nothing to accomplish this. It is, as Time’s Michael Crowley points out in an important piece, one of several reasons that Iran has a hard time believing it can trust the United States to ever stop short of its complete destruction.

    Refer to my initial comment piece below addressed to Pennsylvania Senator Casey to understand why the United States should not trust Iran to stop prolonged terrorism including nuclear terrorism.

  2. DEG-

    In the 1950’s, the US overthrew the elected government and installed their own dictator, the Shah.

    In the 1980’s, the US teamed up with Iraq (helping them with chemical weapons and targeting) to kill and injure over 100,000 Iranians.

    The cruiser USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 on 3 July 1988, killing all 290 passengers and crew on board.

  3. After reading your reply and your attendant “Iran Agreement Statement,” I believe your analysis and decision is wrong and based almost exclusively on an “agreement” with an enemy that has consistently attacked the United States and violated every restriction on the development of nuclear weapons. Iran seized our embassy in Tehran 1979, bombed our Marine barracks and Embassy in Lebanon 1983, brutally tortured and murdered the CIA Beirut Chief of Station William Buckley 1985, bombed the US barracks in Khobar, Saudi Arabia 1996, supported our enemy in Afghanistan and Iraq by providing weapons, ammunition, explosives, funds, special armor penetrating ammunition, IED, and training. Iran orchestrated and supported many other attacks on US facilities and personnel throughout the Middle East. Iran consistently supported the destruction of Israel and Jordan by word and overt acts.

    I do not know if you are involved with the duplicity of President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry and their insane effort to trust Iran to comply with their agreement or just totally naive. By your agreement with the JCPOA you have not only circumvented the Constitutional process involving treaties but have greatly endangered our nation, the Middle East, and all the members of our armed forces who will pay with blood and lives for your politically ambitious decision in a non-election year for you.

    There was a better decision, one that was working effectively – keep all sanctions in place or increase them until Iran demonstrated and we verified the destruction of all nuclear weapons development. Unfortunately, Obama and Kerry lacked the political will and international leadership to be effective in that regard.

    If Trump is nominated, let alone elected, it is chiefly because of stupid decisions like yours and a Congress publicly rated “somewhere below cockroaches, traffic jams, and colonoscopies in Americans’ esteem.” See Public Policy Poll:

    As a Pennsylvania US Senator you are disappointing.

  4. The deal stops Iran making plutonium.

    Israel has engaged in more terrorism against the Palestinians than Iran could dream of sponsoring.

  5. For everyone keeping score at home, nuclear Iran is now officially Bush’s fault too. I guess that’s why Obama didn’t even try.

  6. Unsanctioned R-

    I guess you missed Chris Wallace interviewing Dick Cheney and point out how Iran went from 0 to 5,000 centrifuges during Bush-Cheney administration.

    Cheney tried claiming that it happened on Obama’s watch, and Wallace came back with: No. 5,000 by 2009.

    Another Cheney fail.

  7. Apparently, what’s behind the opposition to the Iran deal is not the development of a bomb, but a desire to suppress Iran’s economic growth … as many experts report that acquiring the bomb is otherwise inevitable. As I see it, allowing ran (in exchange for dumping it nuclear ambitions) to become entwined and dependent on the larger international economy will shift power within Iran away from the extremists to those who just want to live well and longer.

    Witness recent provocations by China in our territorial waters off Alaska. What China fears most (I’m willing to wager) is not our military power, but a boycott of its goods by the American people. A war, threats of war, isolating by force merely serve the ambitions of the powers that be.

  8. Democrats and Democrats alone get all the credit for Iran and their proxy’s nuclear future.

    Perhaps it is Iran’s destabilizing effect in the middle east that makes John Kerry think Iran is a “good faith actor.” Maybe it’s their unrelenting pursuit of a nuclear weapon, according to all Western intelligence services. Or, maybe it’s their continued public pronouncements of “Death to America.” Probably all 3.

    The Democrats tell us to trust Iran. Trust that they will follow the secret side deals, which only our negotiation partners have read. We won’t even know if they’re right if Iran tells us what’s in them. We already know we disagree on what the text means in the agreement we can read.

    This administration from the beginning wanted to sunset the “unjust” sanctions and let the clock run out so that we had to take whatever the Iranian’s gave us. They knew it and played us. When we passed the first deadline and we decided not to lead by simultaneously asking for extended sanctions (the stick), Iran knew we were handing out carrots.

    Congratulations Democrats, you now own their proxy wars against our troops and the nuclear 9/11.

  9. That was a J Street quote which was spin. The authors made the point over and over that votes were out of spite. I don’t want to think they’re right.

    Fact is our Democratic leadership messed this up long ago because it was their intention to remove “unjust” sanctions. Democrats and Democrats alone now own all the credit for the nuclear future of Iran and their proxies.

  10. That’s not what the article says. It says that Netanyahu poisoned the debate and AIPAC overplayed its hand:

    “It used to be that AIPAC could deliver votes in a situation like this by emphasizing the political cost of going against them. That no longer works as well as it used to, with Democrats in particular, who recognize that the majority of their supporters in the Jewish community support this deal,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s executive director. “The days of AIPAC being able to present itself as the sole voice of American Jews on these issues are over.”

  11. Simply put Casey Jr stinks! His explanation is weasel-like and defies logic. His position does not reflect sound judgment but that CaseyJr is a pimp for Obama- and the left wing anti Semitic anti Israel faction of our Party. So very sad that we have gone from JFk RFK and LBJ and Senators like Humphry and Jackson to crap like Casey Jr. Unlike his father Casey JR lacks integrity and character. Stick it to Casey when he runs again!

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