WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York announced Friday he is backing President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal.
“I bring to my analysis the full weight of my responsibilities as a member of Congress, and my perspective as an American Jew who is both a Democrat and a strong supporter of Israel,” Nadler said in a statement. He said that the agreement “gives us the best chance of stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.”
Nadler’s support came after Obama appealed to him personally in a letter this week, defending the deal and pledging that the US will continue to keep economic pressure on Iran and keep military options open.
The congressman’s endorsement also has significance as Jewish lawmakers from New York are facing significant pressure to oppose the deal. The state’s senior Democratic senator, Chuck Schumer, is opposed. Nadler becomes the first Jewish Democratic lawmaker from New York to announce he’ll support the deal.
In his letter to Nadler, Obama said that if Iran rushes to build a nuclear weapon, “all of the options available to the United States — including the military option — will remain available.”
The president also said the US will uphold sanctions targeting Iran’s non-nuclear activities, such as its support for Lebanon’s Hezbollah group and what Obama calls Iran’s “destabilizing role in Yemen.”
Obama wrote the letter, dated Aug. 19, from Martha’s Vineyard, the tony island off the Massachusetts coast where he is in the midst of a two-week vacation. While the president has made no public appearances during his break, he has been privately reaching out to Democratic lawmakers in a bid to boost support for the Iran deal.
Congress will vote next month on a resolution of disapproval on the accord to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief. The president is expected to have to veto the measure, but White House officials and Democratic lawmakers have expressed confidence that there is enough support in the party to block GOP override efforts.
Obama has picked up crucial support from Democrats in recent days, including Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, who said Thursday that while the agreement isn’t perfect, it was clear to her that “the world is united behind this agreement with the exception of the government of Israel.”
Nadler, who represents a heavily Jewish congressional district, is among the undecided Democrats. Sen. Chuck Schumer, another influential Jewish lawmaker from New York, announced earlier in the month that he would vote against the agreement.
In his letter to Nadler, Obama emphasized US support for Israel, saying he views the country’s security as sacrosanct. He said he was committed to deepening missile defense funding and other military cooperation with Israel
Obama’s letter to Nadler was first obtained by The New York Times.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.