Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) voiced tepid support for the Iran nuclear deal though the announcement of his decision fell short of an endorsement of the Obama administration’s championed agreement.
Booker acknowledged the deal as "deeply flawed" in a Medium post, outlining several of its weaknesses and claiming that it ultimately falls short of "eliminating Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon."
"We have now passed a point of no return that we should have never reached," Booker explained, "leaving our nation to choose between two imperfect, dangerous and uncertain options. Left with these two choices, I nonetheless believe it is better to support a deeply flawed deal, for the alternative is worse."
Booker described the deal as "rewarding" Iran for its past deceit surrounding Tehran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.
"With this deal, we are legitimizing a vast and expanding nuclear program in Iran," the New Jersey lawmaker wrote. "We are in effect rewarding years of their deception, deceit, and wanton disregard for international law by allowing them to potentially have a domestic nuclear enrichment program at levels beyond what is necessary for a peaceful civil nuclear program."
Booker also admitted that Iran’s nuclear breakout capability may become shorter after 15 years under the terms of the deal brokered in Vienna in July.
"We run the risk that, after 15 years, we crowd out the opportunity for diplomacy or effective re-imposition of sanctions. If Iran’s breakout period becomes so short that the transition to a bomb is a step that would take a matter of weeks or days, we may be left with a binary choice between accepting Iran as a nuclear state or taking military action," Booker hypothesized.
He further labeled the deal "troubling" because of the tens of billions of dollars to which Iran will gain access through sanctions relief.
"Rejecting this deal is a legitimate policy choice that should not be condemned or casually dismissed by those of us who support the deal," Booker said, implicitly acknowledging colleagues like Sens. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Bob Menendez (D., N.Y.) who have opposed the nuclear agreement.
While ultimately backing agreement, Booker insisted that the United States must "also pursue a more robust regional strategy aimed at patching the deal’s shortcomings." He insisted that he has spoken to President Obama regarding his concerns with the deal and pledged to "aggressively pursue them through congressional action" should the administration fail to address said worries.
"I do believe that this deal presents the better path of two options to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," Booker wrote.
The New Jersey lawmaker’s announcement comes one day after Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.) became the 34th vote in favor of the deal, giving Obama enough votes to force its success despite the fact that a majority of Americans oppose it.
While Obama, like Booker, has couched the deal as an alternative to military confrontation with Iran, a council of retired military leaders recently released a report indicating that the Iran agreement will increase the likelihood of war.