Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), long term House and Senate Foreign Relations Committee member, gave a speech at Seton Hall University in New Jersey this afternoon announcing his expected opposition to President Obama’s Iran nuclear pact. The venue was Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations. Sen. Menendez was introduced by Courtney Smith, Senior Associate Dean and Associate Professor. This follows announcements by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), yesterday, and last week by New York Democrat colleague Senator Charles Schumer.
We are also awaiting a decision from Menendez’s successor as Ranking Member on Senate Foreign Relations, Senator Ben-Cardin (D-MD) co-sponsor of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA). At issue is whether the Congress can successfully override an announced veto by President Obama should, as expected the Republican majorities solidly back a resolution to reject the Iran nuclear deal. That was sealed by the announcement Monday by Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake. The ability to override the President’s threatened veto hinges on whether currently wavering Democrat members of both chambers in Congress elect to reject the pact, given intense Administration lobbying and constituent opinions. Recent polls show that the majority of Americans responding urge their Senators and Congressional Representatives to reject the Iran nuclear deal by 2 to 1.
The Elder of Ziyun blog has the full transcript of Senator Menendez’s of his Seton Hall University remarks. Note these remarks:
Within about a year of Iran meeting its initial obligations, Iran will receive sanctions relief to the tune of $100-150 billion in the release of frozen assets, as well as renewed oil sales of another million barrels a day, as well as relief from sectoral sanctions in the petrochemical, shipping, shipbuilding, port sectors, gold and other precious metals, and software and automotive sectors.
“ran will also benefit from the removal of designated entities including major banks, shipping companies, oil and gas firms from the U.S. Treasury list of sanctioned entities.
Of the nearly 650 entities that have been designated by the U.S. Treasury for their role in Iran’s nuclear and missile programs or for being controlled by the Government of Iran, more than 67 percent will be de-listed within 6-12 months,’ according to testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
This was a courageous speech from a long term valued friend of Israel and opponent of President Obama’s dangerous Iran nuclear pact with the ‘theocratic, totalitarian, genocidal” Mullahs of the Khomeinist Revolutionary Islamist Republic in Tehran. Note Sen. Menendez’s concluding remarks:
I know that, in many respects, it would be far easier to support this deal, as it would have been to vote for the war in Iraq at the time. But I didn’t choose the easier path then, and I’m not going to now. I know that the editorial pages that support the agreement would be far kinder, if I voted yes, but they largely also supported the agreement that brought us a nuclear North Korea.
At moments like this, I am reminded of the passage in John F. Kennedy’s book, Profiles in Courage, where he wrote:
The true democracy, living and growing and inspiring, puts its faith in the people – faith that the people will not simply elect men who will represent their views ably and faithfully, but will also elect men (and I would parenthetically add woman) who will exercise their conscientious judgment – faith that the people will not condemn those whose devotion to principle leads them to unpopular courses, but will reward courage, respect honor, and ultimately recognize right.
In whatever arena in life one may meet the challenges of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience – the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men – each man must decide for himself the course he will follow. The stories of past courage can define that ingredient – they can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul.
I have looked into my own soul and my devotion to principle may once again lead me to an unpopular course, but if Iran is to acquire a nuclear bomb, it will not have my name on it.
It is for these reasons that I will vote to disapprove the agreement and, if called upon, would vote to override a veto.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.