In first debate, Booker the lone Democrat to not call for reentering Iran deal
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In first debate, Booker the lone Democrat to not call for reentering Iran deal

‘If I have an opportunity to leverage a better deal, then I’m going to do it,’ says New Jersey senator, who voted in favor of the pact in 2015

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks at a Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Art, Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks at a Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Art, Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

WASHINGTON — Cory Booker was the lone Democratic presidential hopeful on Wednesday night who didn’t vow to reenter the Iran nuclear deal if elected.

At one point in the first debate of the 2020 primary — held in Miami, Florida — the candidates were asked whether they would rejoin the landmark pact reached by the Obama administration, which US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from.

Every single candidate except the New Jersey senator raised their hand.

“We need to get into a deal, but I’m not going to have a platform to say I’m going to rejoin the deal,” said Booker, who as a senator in 2015 voted in favor of the deal. “When I’m president of the United States, I will do the best I can to secure the country and the region and if I have an opportunity to leverage a better deal, I’m going to do it.”

Among the other candidates on stage Wednesday night were Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio.

The debate only included 10 of the 23 Democratic candidates. A second debate Thursday night will feature 10 others, including most of those polling in the top tier, such as former vice president Joe Biden; Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and California Senator Kamala Harris.

Photographs from the Iranian nuclear weapons archive, showcased by Israeli officials, of a metal chamber that Israeli officials said was housed at the Parchin military site and was built to conduct experiments as part of the Iranians’ rogue nuclear weapons program (Israeli government)

Under the nuclear deal, Iran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium and submit to UN inspections in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the accord in May 2018 and has imposed increasingly tough sanctions to pressure Iran into a better deal. The US has threatened sanctions against countries that trade with Tehran.

In February, the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution that called on the US to reenter the deal, a sign that it would be come a policy priority for the party heading into 2020.

Since then, a number of Democratic candidates have said they would get back into the agreement if elected, such as Warren, Sanders and Harris.

While every other candidate on the debate stage Wednesday night said they would reenter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is formally called, Booker was not the only one to criticize it.

Klobuchar said she would have liked to see certain restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program extended longer than the JCPOA’s so-called sunset provisions allowed.

“It was imperfect, but it was a good deal for that moment,” she said. “I would have worked to get longer sunset periods, and that’s something we can negotiate to get back in the deal.”

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