Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said there is no alternative to the nuclear agreement with Iran, which he argued would make Israel safer.
“I think those of us who believe we should not approve this proposal is one that recognizes that if we do, as I said in my remarks, we’re alone in the world community. We’re alone. Sanctions will no longer be effective, you know, we’ll be able to have some sanctions but we learned a long time ago that our doing it alone doesn’t work,” Reid said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Tuesday.
“I mean, we made some sacrifices blocking this agreement economically but other countries made significant sacrifices also – and, as I indicated here, they want to begin trade relations with Iran. It’s a country of 50 million people, there’s potential there,” he added.
Reid said the agreement does a better job than any other proposal to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
“This agreement that we have the opportunity to affirm does nothing but stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon; that’s the purpose of it. It doesn’t stop other things. We will continue to assert our influence and our power to make sure their meddling in other places will be at a relative minimal,” he said.
Reid said everyone understands the threat Iran poses to the U.S. and Israel.
“With powerful weapons, hateful words, anti-Semitic smears and pledges of the Jewish state’s destruction no one can underestimate this menace and no one should dismiss how much more dangerous Iran would be in this regard if it were to have a nuclear bomb,” Reid said.
Reid added that the U.S. government recognizes the threat of Iran’s support for Hezbollah and Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad as well as Iran’s “brazen” human rights violations.
“We recognize the danger Iran poses to our allies, our interests and our own troops and our diplomats serving around the world in peril every day of their lives in the Middle East, certainly. No one is blind to the threat Iran poses but, again, no one should forget that Iran would become a threat of an entirely different magnitude if it ever were to have a nuclear weapon,” he said.
Reid predicted the Senate would successfully reject the agreement but that there would not be enough votes to override President Obama’s veto.
“It’s clear the Senate is going to reject this agreement. We’re all together. There are a few dissenting votes,” Reid said.
Reid explained that supporting the agreement does not mean the U.S. trusts Iran. He stressed that the deal “isn’t a peace treaty with Iran or a gift out of the goodness of our hearts.”
“Our negotiators said even though we cannot take away the recipe to build a bomb, we can take away the ingredients and the use of equipment to cook one – that’s what we are doing but only if the United States upholds and enforces this agreement. The good news is this agreement does more than take away Iran’s ability to build a bomb. It gives us the ability to watch every move,” he said.
“If we trusted Iran we wouldn’t need the videocameras and inspectors and seals and all matter of technology to make sure Iran complies. We are not asking Iran to promise us anything and taking it at its word, we’re demanding Iran prove to us it’s complying with every last letter of this agreement,” he added.
Reid assured the public there is “no better deal” and “no plausible alterative” to the current agreement. He also urged Congress and President Obama to continue supporting Israel.
“I believe this agreement makes Israel safer and in no small part that’s why I support it. Over my decades in the Senate, my support for the safety and security of the Israeli people has been at the core of my views on the Middle East and the national security of the United States,” he said.
“I plan to work with the White House and work with both Democrats and Republicans to guarantee the United States is doing everything possible to protect the safety and security of Israel.”