Former US senator Joe Lieberman, a Democrat turned independent and a loyal friend of Israel on Capitol Hill, will take the leadership of the United Against Nuclear Iran organization after its current chairman stepped down Monday following a recent change of heart on the Iranian nuclear agreement.
Gary Samore, the former White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction under the Barack Obama presidency, recently decided that he ultimately stands in support of the controversial deal and resigned from his post.
In a New York Times report published Tuesday, Samore was quoted as saying, “I think President Obama’s strategy succeeded. He has created economic leverage and traded it away for Iranian nuclear concessions.”
Samore helped establish United Against Nuclear Iran in 2008, long before nuclear negotiations were underway, and will remain on the group’s advisory board. The group’s initial aim was to strengthen international sanctions against Iran.
“I support the work that UANI has done in the past to strengthen sanctions, and I think they will have a role to play in the future to maintain non-nuclear sanctions if the deal goes forward,” he said, according to the Times report.
“While concerned with many provisions of the Iran deal, Gary ultimately supports the agreement and is stepping down to avoid any conflict with UANI’s work in opposition to the agreement,” the group’s CEO Mark D. Wallace was quoted by The Washington Post as saying.
Lieberman, the group said in a statement, “will play a key leadership role throughout UANI’s efforts to educate and inform the American public regarding the serious shortcomings of the Iran nuclear deal.”
“UANI is honored to have Senator Lieberman, a longtime UANI Advisory Board member and close friend, assume a leadership role at this critical time,” Wallace was quoted in the statement as saying. “Senator Lieberman’s foreign policy and national security expertise is highly respected and renowned around the world. We could have no better leader as the American people consider this flawed Iran agreement.”
The US Congress is expected to vote on the agreement by September 17. A fierce battle between the Obama administration and the pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), is currently raging for Congressional votes on the matter.
So far, some three dozen House members, all Democrats, have announced support for the deal, along with nearly 20 Democratic senators. The most prominent opponent of the accord is Senator Chuck Schumer, who last week announced that he would vote against the deal.