PA-Sen: McGinty Announces Support of Iranian Nuclear Deal
Senator Pat Toomey and former Congressman Joe Sestak both made their opinions known rather early in the debate.
Democratic Senator Bob Casey announced his support of the agreement last week.
McGinty, though, held off on a decision, a move that earned her several critiques from her opponents.
Now, however, the Senate candidate is making her opinion clear with a long statement in support.
She cites George H.W. Bush’s National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft in her argument.
McGinty’s full statement is presented below:
“After very careful consideration, I am announcing my support for the international nuclear agreement (known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) between the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany with Iran as the best option to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
“In my view, this agreement, aggressively enforced, offers a critical opportunity to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Although I understand and respect the heartfelt concerns of opponents of the agreement, I believe this agreement offers the most realistic way available to achieve our nation’s and Israel’s critical security goals.
“Iran is an avowed enemy of the U.S. and Israel. A nuclear bomb in the hands of Iran poses an existential threat to Israel and a danger to the world. That prospect must urgently be stopped, and, for the reasons discussed below, I believe this agreement enables us to achieve that essential objective.
“Consider that without this agreement, Iran would be on the cusp of developing nuclear weapons capability – it is estimated that Iran could produce enough enriched uranium for a bomb within 2-3 months (the “breakout period”). Under this agreement, for at least ten years, Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon are essentially blocked.
“Uranium enrichment is significantly restricted. Iran’s stockpiles of low-enriched uranium are required to be reduced from 10,000 kgs to 300 kgs. For 15 years, Iran cannot enrich uranium over 3.67 percent (weapons grade uranium needs to be enriched to 90%). Furthermore, Iran is required to reduce the number of centrifuges used to develop enriched uranium by two-thirds – from 19,000 to 5,060. The centrifuges remaining in use would be older, less sophisticated designs.
“Energy Secretary and nuclear expert Ernest Moniz has noted that under this agreement weapons grade plutonium production will be stopped. Cement will be poured into the core of the Arak reactor that now produces weapons-grade plutonium. The reactor will be replaced by a research reactor that does not produce weapons grade plutonium.
“Rigorous inspection and verification measures—along with snap back sanctions—are at the heart of this agreement. The agreement is not based on taking Iran’s word for it, but instead allows the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors regular and complete access to Iran’s declared nuclear facilities to monitor and verify compliance.
“Concern has been raised about the 24-day period governing IAEA access to non-declared, suspected nuclear sites. On this point, I find convincing those scientists who point out that the half-life and detectability of radioactive materials is such that non-compliant activities can and will be detected at suspect facilities. Bolstering the inspection regime is the ability under this agreement for the IAEA and our own intelligence assets closely to monitor the supply chain and in that way also identify activity of concern.
“For these reasons, some 29 nuclear experts have reviewed the agreement carefully and found the verification provisions to be of unprecedented strength. They concluded the agreement has “much more stringent constraints than any previously negotiated non-proliferation framework.”
“I also find it critically important that nothing in this agreement prevents the United States or its international partners from responding if Iran fails to abide by the terms of the JCPOA or from taking military action if they try to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran must clearly understand that we will not allow it to achieve a nuclear weapon. Indeed Iran must know that we have the capacity to, and will in fact, stop them if they resume work toward a bomb.
“As a strong supporter of the State of Israel, I understand the sincere concern expressed with respect to Israel’s security. I feel strongly that Israel’s security is America’s security. By effectively blocking Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon for at least 10 years, the agreement in my view provides important new protection for Israel’s security.
“And new protections are essential. It is important to keep in mind that, while sanctions have had serious adverse impact on Iran’s economy and have been instrumental in bringing Iran to the table, Iran vastly increased its nuclear capabilities while the sanctions have been in place.
“Moreover, our allies have made clear that they will not support the continued imposition of tough sanctions. As Brent Scowcroft, former national security advisor to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush recently wrote in The Washington Post:
‘If we walk away, we walk away alone. The world’s leading powers worked together effectively because of U.S. leadership. To turn our back on this accomplishment would be an abdication of the United States’ unique role and responsibility, incurring justified dismay among allies and friends. We would lose all leverage over Iran’s nuclear activities. The international sanctions regime would dissolve. And no member of Congress should be under the illusion that another U.S. invasion of the Middle East would be helpful.’
“Compliance with the agreement provides Iran with phased relief from nuclear sanctions. As it implements key provisions of the agreement, we must also take steps to fight their state sponsorship of terror and human rights abuses.
“In pursuit of this important goal, I believe the United States must take action in addition to this agreement, including: continuing sanctions on Iran to counter terrorism and human rights abuses; making clear to Iran that violations or any dash to breakout will strongly be countered, including potentially with military force; further making clear to Iran that the United States has the technical capacity and determination to use weapons capable of destroying their nuclear infrastructure; increasing support for Israel in every respect, and heightening intelligence sharing between the United States, Israel and our Gulf partners.
“Having been involved in the negotiation of various international agreements, I know that no side wins on every aspect. That is necessarily and especially the case here where we negotiate with a determined enemy. While reflective of the tough negotiations that produced it, I support this agreement because I believe it enhances security by effectively blocking Iran’s nuclear ambitions for a decade or more.”