Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said he remains “reluctantly” supportive of the Iran deal as the “least bad pathway” to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, despite concerns over Iran’s use of the sanctions relief.
Coons previously stated that Iran would likely cheat under the deal and fund terrorist activities with the relief funds.
PJ Media asked Coons why he is still optimistic about the deal despite those concerns.
“It is exactly because of those concerns that I have given floor speeches, sent letters to the president, spoken directly and personally with the senior administration officials responsible for interdiction of weapons flows and cash flows in terrorist organizations. I’m not sure the phrase I would use is ‘optimistic,’” Coons said on a conference call.
“I think the phrase I would use is, the JCPOA was the least bad option we had. And I reluctantly supported it as the least bad pathway to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon when there seemed to me to be few other credible paths. I also committed to being aggressive in insisting that we really push back against their support for terrorism in the region and I am committed to being relentless in pressing the administration to do so. This administration and the next,” he added.
Coons, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the implementation of the deal early on is a “critical” time.
“I think we have to aggressively and effectively enforce the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] in these early months and for the years to come, because how we respond early sets the table for how Iran will behave and sends to them a clear signal about how we will respond if they commit a major violation later,” he said.
Coons was asked if he would support new sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile tests.
“I don’t expect us to get to that situation. The president wrote me directly a letter … on the 8th in which he restated clearly and firmly his commitment not just to vigorous enforcement of the JCPOA but to interdiction of weapons shipments from Iran to his regional allies,” he said.
Coons also said the Obama administration should not give into any Iranian threats to abandon the JCPOA since the U.S. government clearly said its existing sanctions authority would remain on the books.
“If Iran chooses to walk away from the JCPOA because we exercised our rights then we don’t really have an agreement with Iran that is worth upholding,” he said.