Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said today that he’s sharing his Seton Hall remarks on the Iran nuclear deal — in which he ripped the agreement provision by provision — with other members of Congress.
Menendez was asked on Fox whether he’s whipping other Democrats to vote against the deal.
“I certainly am sharing the speech that I delivered yesterday at Seton Hall University to all of those colleagues that have not decided. I want them to have an understanding of the insights, of the countless hours,” the senator said. “Not every colleague sits on the [Foreign Relations] committee, not every colleague necessarily had all the access that I had. I want them to have a full understanding of both the flaws of the agreement and that there is also a Plan B, because I think many colleagues believe that the agreement is deeply flawed. But they’re hung up on the, ‘if not this, then what?'”
In his speech, Menendez laid out a “credible” alternate path forward in negotiations — something the Obama administration swears doesn’t exist.
He opined that President Obama jumped at the deal for “aspirational” reasons.
“There is a hope if you buy time and the Iranians comply exactly as they are supposed to over this period of time, that maybe Iran will change,” Menendez said of administration reasoning. “Maybe the forces of commerce and international integration will change. Maybe they’ll stop holding American hostages. Maybe they’ll stop exporting terrorism. But hope is not a national security initiative. And so I have to look at the deal not if everything is going to go well, but in fact looking at a 20 year history of violations of Security Council resolutions and other items. What if it goes bad?”
He noted that there are “more than a dozen” senators who haven’t decided how they’ll vote.
With his “no” vote and that of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), 11 more Dem defections are needed.
“But I would say simply say, this isn’t a binary choice between the agreement or war. Even members of the administration past and present, who came and testified before the committee when I asked him that question said, no that’s not the case. So that’s a false choice. And it’s a false choice to say that people who are against the agreement ere those who voted for the Iraq War. I didn’t vote for the Iraq War. So I’m on a totally different plane here.”
Menendez stressed “whether I was a deciding vote or not” is “not the basis” for his vote.
“The question for me this is one of the most significant national security non-proliferation issues we have had in quite some time, and so my view of this, as someone who has spent 23 years in the House and the Senate sitting on the respective Foreign Relations Committee, and pursuing Iran for the better part of 20 years,” he said.
“When I looked and said, why does Iran that has the fourth world largest oil reserves and the second natural gas reserves in the world even need nuclear energy for domestic energy consumption, that I had been following them and see how they’re deception delay and defiance of international community has gotten them to this point.”