WASHINGTON — Senator Edward J. Markey on Wednesday said he would support the Iran nuclear agreement, offering his endorsement on a highly charged issue that has been dividing some Democrats.
Markey — a Massachusetts Democrat who took the seat long held by Secretary of State John Kerry, who negotiated the deal — said in a statement provided to the Globe that he believes that the negotiated deal is the best way to ensure Iran doesn’t build a nuclear weapon.
“I have concluded that diplomacy remains our best tool to secure a nuclear-weapon-free Iran,” Markey said. “That’s why I intend to support the Iran nuclear agreement when it comes before Congress in September.”
“This agreement is far from perfect and carries risks,” he added. “But I believe our negotiators achieved as much as they reasonably could, and that if strictly implemented, this plan can be effective.”
Markey is the latest member of the Massachusetts delegation to announce support for the deal. Earlier this month, Senator Elizabeth Warren, as well as Representatives Seth Moulton, Stephen Lynch, and Jim McGovern, also announced their support. Representative Michael Capuano has said he is “leaning strongly in favor,” and no member of the all-Democratic delegation has come out against the deal.
But the accord, negotiated in Vienna, has sparked bipartisan opposition. Several prominent Democrats, including Senators Charles E. Schumer of New York and Bob Menendez of New Jersey have come out against it.
Congress has until mid-September to review the deal and pass a resolution of disapproval before it begins to take effect. It appears likely that such a resolution would have enough votes to pass, but given a veto threat from Obama, opponents will need to amass at least a two-thirds majority for an override.
Obama would need 34 members of the Senate or 146 members of the House in order to preserve the deal. If Republicans all band together in opposition, he could only afford a small number of Democratic defections.
Opponents of the deal say it contains a weak inspections process that could allow Iran to cheat and hide nuclear material to build a bomb. They also say that the lifting of arms embargoes, which could start occurring within five years, would allow Iran to build and ship larger conventional weapons using a new influx of cash.
In his statement, Markey emphasized his support for Israel, and his belief that “prevention of a nuclear war is one of the most important issues facing the world today.”
“Iran has given us good reason to be skeptical of its intentions. It is a state sponsor of terrorism, a destabilizing force in the Middle East, and with nuclear weapons capabilities, Iran would present an existential threat to Israel,” he said. “Iran has misled us in the past when it comes to their nuclear program. That’s why verification is key to this agreement.”
In the end, after briefings from Kerry as well as Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Markey said that he believes that the inspection regime will help alert the international community if Iran doesn’t live up to the terms of the deal.
“As we fully implement this agreement,” he said, “we must be ever vigilant to ensure that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon.”