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Sen. Murphy on Nuclear Deal: "Iran Has Given Us Absolutely No Reason to Trust Them"

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A view of the Alborz Mountains to the north of Tehran.
Sen. Murphy said it's not about trust, it's about keeping Iran accountable.

President Obama's agreement with Iran now heads to Congress. As part of the deal, Iran will curtail its nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions. But the idea of lifting sanctions has rankled many, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called the deal a "historic mistake." 

Netanyahu said lifting sanctions will allow Iran access to billions of dollars that could be used to harm the interests of the U.S. and Israel. That idea was echoed by former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, who spoke to the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington.

"Iran will be granted permanent and total relief from nuclear sanctions in exchange for temporary and partial limitations on its nuclear projects," Lieberman said. "That is the essence of why I believe this is a bad deal for America, a bad deal for Iran's neighbors in the Middle East, and a bad deal for the world."

Sen. Chris Murphy, who succeeded Lieberman in the U.S. Senate, said he won't support the deal if it doesn't make Israel safer. He said if Iran agrees to dismantle all its pathways to a nuclear weapon, then it's logical America would remove those associated sanctions. But, he said, "It's important that we keep sanctions in place for their support of terrorism in the region, their violation of human rights internally, and Congress always has the ability to increase the sanctions against Iran for the way in which they're supporting terrorist groups like Hezbollah in the Middle East," he said.

To that end, Murphy said it's not about trust, it's about keeping Iran accountable.

"Iran doesn't transform as a result of this agreement from a bad actor into a good actor," Murphy said. "Yes, this is going to be a victory for the moderates inside Iran. Yes, there is a potential that the hardliners who have been behind all of these provocative actions in the region like support of Hezbollah could be marginalized, but time will only tell," he continued. "We shouldn't be signing onto this agreement because we think it's going to magically transform Iranian politics. We should be signing onto this agreement because we believe that it's the best way to keep Iran from a nuclear weapon."

WNPR's Tucker Ives contributed to this post. 

Patrick Skahill is a reporter at Connecticut Public. He covers science and the environment. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: pskahill@ctpublic.org.
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