State, local leaders weigh in on Iran deal



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Gov. Mike Pence is interviewed by television stations at the Republican Election Night watch party in downtown Indianapolis. IDS file photo and IDS file photo Buy Photos

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence led a coalition of governors in opposing President Obama’s Iran deal Tuesday even as Senate Democrats secured the votes the president needs.

Pence and 14 other Republican governors’ letter voiced concerns that the agreement won’t effectively stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

“Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism, and it should not be permitted any pathway toward obtaining a nuclear weapon, now or ever,” the letter reads.

On July 14, the United States and other world powers signed a landmark deal with Iran limiting the Persian country’s ability to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Since then, Republicans penned a resolution of disapproval. Though opponents to the deal hold the majority and the resolution will likely pass initially, President Obama has promised a veto. In order for the veto to be overturned, supporters need to whip up at least 34 Senate votes. As of Tuesday morning, 42 Democrats had announced their intention to vote in favor of the agreement, securing Obama the support he needs.

Among the 14 governors endorsing the letter are GOP presidential candidates Gov. Chris Christie, R-New Jersey; Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio; and Gov. Scott Walker, 
R-Wisconsin.

Pence’s letter suggests lifting federal sanctions will enable Iran to fund terrorist groups. Rajendra Abhyankar, a professor of diplomacy and foreign affairs in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs with 40 years of experience as a diplomat in India’s foreign ministry, said he believes the current deal is the best agreement possible.

“I don’t believe that one country can impose on another how it can spend its money,” Abhyankar said. “What Congress needs to concentrate on is greater oversight.”

Promises to lift sanctions, Abhyankar said, are what brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place.

Indiana’s senators are split on the issue. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., supports the deal while Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., has 
denounced it. Both Donnelly and Coats sent statements in light of the governor’s 
letter to Obama.

“President Obama’s deal with Iran is an agreement with benefits too small, a duration too short and a cost too high,” a press release from Coats’ office reads.

Donnelly pointed to growing support for the deal, highlighting former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s endorsement of the 
agreement.

Along with his letter to the president, Pence issued a letter to the Indiana congressional delegation, encouraging legislators to back the resolution. The governor also said in the letter that he would not support lifting state-level sanctions against Iran, despite the deal’s encouragement of state leaders to do so.

The governor further promised to “work with the General Assembly to examine whether there are any new steps the state can take to bolster our sanctions.”

Rep. Todd Young, R-9th District, said he would support efforts to prohibit investment of taxpayer funds in Iran on the state level.

“I believe I owe it to the Hoosiers I represent to take an honest stand and demand a deal that steers the American people toward a better position,” he said through a spokesperson.

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