New Mexico Democrats on the Historic Iran Nuclear Agreement

New Mexico’s Congressional Democrats issued statements yesterday on the historic nuclear agreement reached by the Obama Administration, the P5+1 and Iran.

U.S. Senator Tom Udall, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement on the agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program:

“Today’s announcement is a historic step for international cooperation and our shared goal of reducing the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. I have always believed that constructive diplomacy is the best way to achieve a safer Middle East, and I congratulate our team of negotiators on reaching this agreement.

“The next critical step is for Congress to review the agreement, and I will be carefully considering the details, as well as the alternatives. It is vital for Congress to hear from our experts, including those at New Mexico’s national labs, in order to understand how this deal will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. I urge Congress to study the agreement thoughtfully – not with an eye to U.S. politics but on what will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon or the materials to develop one. We all agree that a nuclear-armed Iran is a serious threat that must be prevented. This is the greatest nuclear nonproliferation challenge of our time, and it is a challenge that we must meet.”

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, had the following initial reaction after negotiators in Vienna announced that Iran and the P5+1 reached a nuclear agreement:

“I welcome the fact that this accord will prevent Iran from being able to build a nuclear weapon and threaten its neighbors and the world. This deal breaks each and every pathway to a weaponized nuclear device, including any potential covert effort. In the first eight years of this century, Iran’s nuclear program surged ahead rapidly, adding thousands of centrifuges, building complex nuclear facilities, and stockpiling enough highly enriched uranium to build a number of bombs. Today’s accord slashes that stockpile to a mere fraction of the material necessary to build a single device, unplugs thousands of centrifuges, and it opens those facilities to international inspection. We should welcome each of those developments as a major step toward regional and international security.

“I have spent a lifetime studying both the science and the politics of this nuclear-age world we live in. I grew up listening to my father’s stories of what it was like to watch a nuclear blast firsthand and the formation of a mushroom cloud over Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands. While studying engineering at the University of Missouri, I worked at one of the largest research reactors in the United States.

“Today, New Mexico is home to many of the world’s centrifuges dedicated to the peaceful production of nuclear energy that I have seen in action firsthand. In the House and now on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I have served on the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, which sets policy specifically on our nuclear deterrent, so I am well acquainted with the steps necessary to successfully construct a nuclear weapon. It is because of this familiarity that I am confident in this accord. It includes all the necessary tools to break each potential Iranian pathway to a bomb. Further, it incorporates enough lead-time that should Iran change its course, the United States and the world can react before a device could be built; a scenario I hope never occurs, but one that–even with this accord–truly leaves all options on the table.

“Many of my colleagues in the Senate will object to this American accomplishment saying that we could have done better. It is my experience that the current Senate Majority Leader and his caucus are struggling to keep the government funded and the Highway Trust Fund solvent, so you’ll forgive me if I doubt they could negotiate a better accord and hold together the international coalition necessary for enforcement. They should also remember that this was not a bilateral negotiation, but one conducted along with Russia and China; two countries whose resistance to any international sanctions are well-documented.

“I am deeply distrustful of Iran’s leadership. I suspect that the feeling is mutual. But I am optimistic that this accord is in the best interest of our nation and our allies. This deal sets the stage for a safer and more stable Middle East and a more secure United States of America.”

Congressman Ben Ray Luján released the following statement on the Obama Administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran:

“Preventing a nuclear-armed Iran is absolutely critical to the safety and security of our allies in the Middle East.  We must stop the spread of nuclear weapons.  I commend President Obama, Secretary Kerry, Secretary Moniz and our allies for their commitment to halting Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.  Congress must carefully consider the terms of this agreement, and I will take a close look at all of the details.  It is critical that it includes strong safeguards and transparency provisions that hold Iran accountable.”