Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland announced her support of President Obama’s Iran nuclear accord Wednesday. The 34th Democrat in favor, her vote means that Obama has enough Senate votes to uphold his veto if Congress rejects the July deal as expected.

“Some have suggested we reject this deal and impose unilateral sanctions to force Iran back to the table. But maintaining or stepping up sanctions will only work if the sanction coalition holds together,” Mikulski wrote. “It’s unclear if the European Union, Russia, China, India and others would continue sanctions if Congress rejects this deal. At best, sanctions would be porous, or limited to unilateral sanctions by the U.S.

“The conditions for the lifting of sanctions are strict and verifiable,” she continued, “and with continued international support sanctions could snap back. … The lifting of the sanctions comes more quickly than I would like, and snapback will require continued international support. But after considering the alternatives, I will support this agreement.”

From The Guardian:

Making her announcement an hour before the US secretary of state, John Kerry, was due to defend the deal in a speech in Philadelphia, the senator for Maryland said she was convinced that the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), blocked all four possible pathways to a nuclear bomb, and created “the most robust and extensive verification system ever provided” by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The 34-senator milestone represents a resounding defeat for efforts by the Republicans and the Israeli government to derail the agreement, but it is by no means the end of the political struggle.

The threshold means that Obama’s supporters could stop his veto being overridden if he needed to use it against a congressional vote of disapproval on the JCPOA, agreed with Iran, the US and five other world powers in July. Democrats are now trying to reach 41 votes, enough to block the disapproval vote in the Senate by filibuster, and spare Obama from having to spend political capital on a veto.

The result is already a stinging blow for the deal’s principal opponents, the Republican leadership, the American Israel Political Affairs Committee lobby group – which spent tens of millions of dollars campaigning against the JCPOA – and the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who waded into US politics to an extraordinary degree in an attempt to block it.

Diplomats say Wednesday’s milestone removes the more significant near-term threat to the survival of the agreement, which has already been endorsed by a Security Council vote. It is likely to accelerate preparatory steps on all sides to implement the deal, particularly in Iran, which has a long list of tasks to carry out under the JCPOA to limit the capacity of its nuclear program before it can benefit from sanctions relief.

Read more here.

–Posted by Roisin Davis


If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.