Photo Credit: Menendez.senate.gov
New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez (D)

Remarks Prepared for Delivery:

“For twenty three years as a member of the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees, I have had the privilege of dealing with major foreign policy and national security issues. Many of those have been of a momentous nature. This is one of those moments.

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“I come to the issue of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, with Iran, as someone who has followed Iran’s nuclear ambition for the better part of two decades. I decide on whether to support or oppose an issue on the basis of whether, it is in my judgment, in the national interest and security of our country to do so.

“In this case a secondary, but important, question is what it means for our great ally — the State of Israel — and our other partners in the Gulf.

“Unlike President Obama’s characterization of those who have raised serious questions about the agreement, or who have opposed it, I did not vote for the war in Iraq, I opposed it, unlike the Vice President and the Secretary of State, who both supported it. My vote against the Iraq war was unpopular at the time, but it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

“I also don’t come to this question as someone, unlike many of my Republican colleagues, who reflexively oppose everything the President proposes. In fact, I have supported President Obama, according to Congressional Quarterly, 98 percent of the time in 2013 and 2014. On key policies ranging from voting in the Finance Committee and on the Senate Floor for the Affordable Care Act, to Wall Street Reform, to supporting the President’s Supreme Court Nominees and defending the Administration’s actions on the Benghazi tragedy, his Pivot to Asia, shepherding the authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to stop President Assad’s use of chemical weapons, during the time I was Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to so much more, I have been a reliable supporter of President Obama.

“But my support is not – and has not been driven by party loyalty, but rather by principled agreement, not political expediency. When I have disagreed it is also based on principled disagreement.

“The issue before the Congress in September is whether to vote to approve or disapprove the agreement struck by the President and our P5+1 partners with Iran. This is one of the most serious national security, nuclear nonproliferation, arms control issues of our time. It is not an issue of supporting or opposing the President. This issue is much greater and graver than that.

“For me, I have come to my decision after countless hours in hearings, classified briefings, and hours-and-hours of serious discussion and thorough analysis. I start my analysis with the question: Why does Iran — which has the world’s fourth largest proven oil reserves, with 157 billion barrels of crude oil and the world’s second largest proven natural gas reserves with 1,193 trillion cubic feet of natural gas — need nuclear power for domestic energy?

“We know that despite the fact that Iran claims their nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, they have violated the international will, as expressed by various U.N. Security Council Resolutions, and by deceit, deception and delay advanced their program to the point of being a threshold nuclear state. It is because of these facts, and the fact that the world believes that Iran was weaponizing its nuclear program at the Parchin Military Base — as well as developing a covert uranium enrichment facility in Fordow, built deep inside of a mountain, raising serious doubts about the peaceful nature of their civilian program, and their sponsorship of state terrorism — that the world united against Iran’s nuclear program.

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