The congressman of a former FBI agent kidnapped in Iran more than eight years ago said today that he will oppose the nuclear deal with regime.
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced his decision the week after another congressman of an Iran hostage, Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), said he’d back the deal. Kildee represents the district of Amir Hekmati, a Marine veteran thrown in Evin prison by the Iranian government in 2011.
Deutch wrote in a Sun-Sentinel op-ed that in the 10 years since he first ran for public office he’s devoted himself “to strengthening our national security.”
“I believe we’re stronger when we speak loudly and unapologetically for human rights; when we stand with our allies against common threats like terrorism, radicalization, and poverty; and when we unite to prevent the world’s most dangerous regimes from acquiring the world’s deadliest weapons,” he said.
“…Working across the aisle, I helped pass laws exposing business dealings in Iran, cracking down on Iranian human rights abusers, and applying crippling sanctions to Iran’s oil and gas industries.”
Deutch stressed that assessing the Iran deal “is not a responsibility I take lightly, especially with four Americans, including my constituent Bob Levinson, currently held in Iran.”
Levinson went missing off the coast of Iran in 2007 while working as a private investigator. Levinson’s family later received images of him in captivity, though the Iranian government has maintained they don’t know who is holding him. He is the longest-held U.S. hostage in history.
“Many of my colleagues are trying to turn this vote into a partisan fight. They should stop. People of good faith can disagree honestly. I have spent weeks reviewing this agreement in classified intelligence briefings, meetings with Administration officials and ambassadors from Europe and the Middle East, and discussions with security and nuclear experts. I’ve also heard from many, many constituents about this deal’s implications for the security of the U.S. and our allies, including Israel, whose very existence is threatened by Iran,” Deutch continued.
“Too many issues I have long raised as essential to any nuclear deal with Iran are not adequately addressed in this agreement. I will vote against it when Congress reconvenes in September.”
Deutch noted that “there are different predictions about what will happen if Congress rejects this deal.”
“But the consequences of approving it aren’t up for debate,” he said. “Opening Iran up to foreign investment, increasing its oil exports, and unfreezing over $100 billion in assets means more money for Hamas for building terror tunnels in Gaza, more weapons for Hezbollah in Lebanon, more slaughter in Syria, and more violence worldwide.”
“After a decade in public life working to stop Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons, I cannot support a deal giving Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief – in return for letting it maintain an advanced nuclear program and the infrastructure of a threshold nuclear state.”
Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), who represents the district of imprisoned Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, said July 14 that he expects “to take full advantage of the 60-day review period before deciding how to vote on this important matter.”
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), who represents imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini, is likely to vote against it.
“The Iranian government claims to want constructive engagement with the world. Yet, Iran refuses to free Boise Pastor Saeed Abedini, imprisoned since 2012,” Labrador said in a mid-July statement.
“Last month the House unanimously called for the release of the U.S. citizens held in Iran, as well as information on any Americans who have disappeared. That these men remain captive is deeply disturbing and raises foundational questions of trust that should have been addressed before striking any deal with Iran.”