Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal Friday.
Cardin penned an op-ed for the Washington Post, writing that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) would "legitimize" Tehran’s nuclear program, leaving the door open for the country to quickly generate a nuclear weapon after 10 to 15 years of implementation.
"The JCPOA would provide this legal path to a country that remains a rogue state and has violated its international nonproliferation obligations for years," Cardin explained. "It would provide Iran with international endorsement of an industrial-scale nuclear program."
"Worse," the Democratic senator continued, "Iran would be economically strengthened by frighteningly quick relief from sanctions and international economic engagement. If Iran violates the agreement, building international support for new sanctions would take too long to be effective. A military response in this scenario would be more likely, although disastrous."
Cardin criticized the language of the agreement for describing its implementation as "based on mutual respect" between Iran and world powers.
"There cannot be respect for a country that actively foments regional instability, advocates for Israel’s destruction, kills the innocent and shouts ‘Death to America,’" Cardin wrote.
He stressed that each lawmaker’s decision regarding the agreement should be a "vote of conscience" rather than a "litmus test of party loyalty or political acumen."
"Discomfort with aspects of the agreement remains across the ideological spectrum," Cardin said.
The Maryland Democrat’s announcement of disapproval comes just days after his colleague Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.) became the crucial 34th vote in favor of the deal. As a result, supporters of the agreement will be able to uphold a promised veto from President Obama of a congressional resolution to reject the deal that Republicans are aiming to pass later this month.
Cardin joins other prominent Senate Democrats in ultimately rejecting the deal. Both Sens. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) have come out against the nuclear deal brokered in July, provoking frowns from the Obama administration.
While the president has held onto enough support in the Senate to force the success of the nuclear agreement, it remains unpopular among the American public. An increasing majority of Americans want Congress to reject the deal, according to recent polling.