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Shelby sums up opposition to Iran nuclear deal: ‘If Putin’s for it, why would we be for it?’

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Wednesday launched what will ultimately be a two-month campaign to win over members of Congress who are skeptical his newly announced Iran nuclear agreement is a good deal for the United States. One senator who President Obama can mark off of his list of those who may be persuaded is Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who told Yellowhammer he has already made up his mind to stand in opposition to the accord.

“The nuclear agreement with Iran is a bad deal for the American people,” Shelby said bluntly. “For the past several months, I have been concerned that President Obama was chasing a deal with Iran just for the sake of reaching an agreement. This deal wrongly prioritizes Iran’s objectives rather than the goal of the United States: to end Iran’s nuclear program.”

Congress is not treating the deal as an official treaty, meaning it will only need a simple majority to gain approval, rather than the two-thirds vote the Constitution would otherwise require.

Mr. Obama should not have a difficult time gathering the votes needed to sustain his veto in the event Congress moves to block the deal, but “his goal over the next two months is to persuade enough Democrats to support the accord so that he can paint opponents as driven by politics rather than diplomacy,” according to a report by the New York Times.

Shelby is joined in his opposition by most congressional Republicans, as well as many Democrats who are skeptical of the deal’s ability to keep Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also slammed the deal, calling it “an historic mistake for the world.”

“Far-reaching concessions have been made in all areas that were supposed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability,” he explained during a press conference. “In addition, Iran will receive hundreds of billions of dollars with which it can fuel its terror machine and its expansion and aggression throughout the Middle East and across the globe.”

During his own press conference in the East Room of the White House, Mr. Obama conceded the Israelis have reason to be concerned.

“You have a large country, with a significant military, that has proclaimed that Israel shouldn’t exist, that has denied the Holocaust, that has financed Hezbollah,” the President said of Iran. “There are very good reasons why Israelis are nervous about Iran’s position in the world, generally.”

But he reiterated his belief that the deal he struck is the most effective way to keep the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin was vocal in his support for the agreement.

“The Russian negotiating team and nuclear experts have made a significant expert contribution to the drafting of the comprehensive arrangements, which made it possible to align the different, often opposing views,” the Kremlin boasted in a press release.

Russia and Iran have allied against the United States on various geopolitical issues, perhaps most notably in their support of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, who President Obama has repeatedly called on to resign.

For Sen. Shelby, his opposition to the substance of the deal was buttressed but the support it received from America’s enemies.

“If Putin’s for it,” he said, “why would we be for it?”

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