By Madina Toure
Two northeast Queens lawmakers have reservations about the current the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran.
The agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was reached July 14 in Vienna by China, France, Germany, Russia, the United States and Iran.
The deal ensures that Iran’s nuclear program will only be used for peaceful purposes. It will also result in the complete lifting of all UN Security Council sanctions against Iran.
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville), who represents a portion of northeast Queens, say the deal has loopholes that will enable Iran to develop its nuclear capabilities and continue to fund terrorists’ activities.
Meng, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Subcommittee on the Middle East, said she wanted to have time to speak with President Barack Obama’s administration before stating her position on the deal.
“It’s a difficult decision as a Democrat and I do want to commend President Obama and Secretary Kerry for devoting so much time to this very important issue and I will continue to work with the administration but we disagree here,” Meng said. “There needs to be a better deal.”
She is wary of the fact that Iran must receive a 24-day notice before the International Atomic Energy Agency, which conducts inspections, can go in and U.S. inspectors, as part of the deal, cannot be part of the inspection process
Meng also expressed concerns about the lifting of sanctions against Iran as spelled out in the deal, saying that money would be freed up for Iran to continue to fund terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah and noting that Iran is still holding four Americans hostage.
Israel expressed similar concerns.
He thinks Iran may commit small violations adding up to large violations without substantial punitive mechanisms in place and that the lifting of sanctions could enable the Persian Gulf nation to further enrich the weapons stockpiles of Hamas and Hezbollah.
Israel also said the deal provides technical capability and international legitimacy for Iran to become a nuclear threshold state in 15 years.
“Since President Obama announced an agreement had been reached on the JCPOA, I have attended classified briefings and read the classified annex to the agreement, spoken personally with the president, held meetings with experts and advocates on both sides, and listened to my constituents,” Israel said in a statement. “I tried very hard to get to a ‘yes’ but at the end of the day, despite some positive elements in the deal, the totality compels me to oppose it.”
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour