Obama clears key US Senate hurdle on Iran deal

September 09, 2015 08:05
Sen. Gary Peters speaks with reporters at the US Capitol in Washington. Peters announced his support for the nuclear deal with Iran Tuesday, along with two other Democratic senators. Photo: Reuters

President Barack Obama has enough votes to carry a divisive nuclear deal with Iran.

On Tuesday, he secured 41 votes in the US Senate, just enough to block a final vote on a measure seeking its defeat.

Reuters is reporting that Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal, Gary Peters and Ron Wyden announced their support for the agreement.

Their support, along with that of 38 other Democratic and independent senators in the 100-seat chamber who favor the accord, would be enough to block a Republican-backed resolution disapproving of the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran.

That would keep Obama from having to use his veto power to stop the resolution and protect a deal seen as a potential legacy foreign policy achievement for his administration.

"This agreement with the duplicitous and untrustworthy Iranian regime falls short of what I had envisioned. However, I have decided the alternatives are even more dangerous," Wyden said in a statement explaining his backing for the agreement.

To block the resolution, deal supporters would need all 41 of the pro-deal senators to vote in favor of using the Senate's filibuster procedural rule to keep a disapproval resolution from advancing.

Some senators who have said they support the Iran agreement have said they would like it to receive an "up or down" vote, although it was not immediately clear if any would break with Democratic party leaders and oppose a filibuster.

Senate aides said deal opponents, including some pro-Israel groups, were waging a fierce lobbying campaign to keep as many as possible from backing the procedural measure.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a vociferous opponent of the Iran nuclear agreement, calling it a threat to his country's existence.

Many opponents of the nuclear agreement, announced on July 14, have argued it offers sanctions relief in exchange for too few concessions from Iran on its nuclear program.

They want the United States and the five other world powers who negotiated with Tehran to return to the table to push for a tougher agreement.

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