Tim Kaine pushes back on Iran deal

tim kaine-newU.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations & Armed Services Committees and co-author of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, reiterated his support Wednesday for the Iran nuclear deal while pushing back on Republican claims that the standard 60-vote threshold is unnecessary on a resolution of disapproval against the deal. He also addressed critical comments about the deal from Vice President Cheney at the American Enterprise Institute yesterday.

“The [Iran Nuclear Agreement Review] act was clear and understood by all that action in the Senate to pass either a motion of approval or a motion of disapproval, either one would be by a 60-vote threshold,” Kaine said in addressing Republicans’ procedural arguments. “We talked about this explicitly in committee. We talked about it before the vote on the floor. And we voted in favor of the act by a 98-1 margin. The majority party understood that as was indicated in the letter of 47 to the leadership of Iran. … We should stick with the agreement we made just a few months ago and treat this resolution of disapproval under a 60-vote rule.”

“There’s nothing about this deal that involves trust,” Kaine continued. “That’s why we’ve insisted that Iran subject itself to intrusive inspections by the IAEA for 25 years and then following that, to the additional protocol inspections required of all members. … The Vice President’s response to this, interestingly enough, is ‘wait, we can’t trust IAEA inspections. They’re going to do it wrong. They have the wrong protocol so we can’t trust them.’ That argument has been made in this body before by the Vice President and others. Vice President Cheney promoted that we go to a war with Iraq, and he repeatedly made the case in 2002 and 2003 that we had to do that to stop Iraq’s nuclear weapons program.

“Two weeks before the war began, in early march, the IAEA issued a report indicating — quote – ‘we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq.’ The Vice President then went to the airwaves with others and led a campaign to trash the credibility of the IAEA to say that neither the integrity of their inspections or their accuracy could be trusted. And after that, we entered into war against Iraq, saying that the IAEA was wrong, and what did we find? What we found was that the inspectors and investigators and engineers and scientists of the IAEA were right, and Vice President Cheney and others were wrong. We’ve been down the path before of trying to trash the IAEA and said they couldn’t be trusted, and it was a horrible disservice to America and the world that we didn’t give those inspections a chance.”

In closing, Kaine discussed how diplomacy with Iran strengthens, not weakens, the credibility of an American military threat should Iran cheat or otherwise break the agreement.

“Just as a strong military enhances diplomacy, strong diplomacy enhances our military might. And that’s true in this case. If we do a deal, we get an Iranian pledge that they will never pursue, develop, or acquire nuclear weapons, caps on their program for 15 years and inspections forever. These tools will increase our intelligence, increase our legal justification to take military action if they break the pledge – that’s in paragraph one of the agreement. And it will also increase the likelihood that America will have global support if military action is necessary. But what if we walk away from diplomacy now? We lose the military intelligence that inspections will give us. We give up a clear legal justification for military action if, God forbid, we should need it and we weaken the likelihood that other nations will support military action if it’s necessary. In this case, diplomacy strengthens, not weakens, the American credibility of our military threat.”

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