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Menendez: Iran Deal 'Did Not Produce Everything the Proponents Say'

Photo: Grabien Screenshot

WASHINGTON – On the one-year anniversary of the Iran deal signing, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) – who broke from President Obama and voted against the deal – told PJM the agreement has not stopped any of Iran’s “nefarious activities” and that the country is still pursuing “dual-use technology.”

President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry said this month the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has made the world safer.

“The world is safer today because conflict in the region is not calculated on the basis of the potential of a nuclear confrontation or nuclear explosion, and because we have the ability to be able to work through some issues which we’ve seen, for instance with our sailors who stumbled into Iranian waters and within 24 hours we were able to get them out,” Kerry said.

Menendez, an outspoken critic of the JCPOA, was asked for his impression of the deal one year after it was signed.

“It did not produce everything the proponents say. It’s obvious that Iran is pursuing other tracks for dual-use technology and it hasn’t stopped any of its other nefarious activities, and that’s why we need to act,” he told PJM on Capitol Hill.

Menendez introduced new sanctions legislation this month, the Countering Iranian Threats Act of 2016, to extend sanctions on Iran, sanction conventional weapons transfers to and from the Islamic Republic, and expand sanctions on Tehran’s ballistic missile program and sponsorship of terrorism.

“Over the course of the last year, we have engaged the Administration repeatedly about the need to address Iranian threats to our national interests and the interests of our friends and allies in the region and around the world. Iran’s threats extend well beyond nuclear weapons ambitions,” the senator said when introducing the bill, co-sponsored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was asked if he felt vindicated as one of the four Senate Dems opposed to the deal or if the agreement has not turned out as bad as he had predicted.

“Well, look, on the nuclear side it has pretty much been status quo, but on the non-nuclear side Iran is continuing its bad behavior. I don’t detect much moderation,” he said.

Schumer declined to answer any follow-up questions.

Last month, CIA Director John Brennan said Iran remains the “leading” state sponsor of terrorism.

“One of the things about ISIS that really distinguishes it from al-Qaeda is that it has a very strong anti-Shia dimension to it that’s sort of rolled over many parts of Iraq because of the years where the Sunni community felt as though a Shia-dominated and Iranian-influenced government in Baghdad was not addressing the needs of the Sunni community,” he said.

“So I think they are very concerned about that growth. At the same time, Iran is still identified by the U.S. government as the leading state sponsor of terrorism because of what they have done, so they are both a part of the problem,” he added.