Senator Menendez not on board with Iran nuclear deal

Courtesy: Ken Cook

Courtesy: Photography Editor Ken Cook


Amid the scorching summer, Sen. (D-N.J.) Robert Menendez kept the political climate hot with the announcement that he will oppose the nuclear deal with Iran. Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations hosted the Senator Tuesday afternoon for the announcement.

This decision comes before Congress votes to either accept or reject the nuclear deal on Sept. 17.

The deal finds most of its support from Democrats, encouraged by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. However, his informed decision could spur further opposition in the Democratic Party.

Republicans represent the majority of the opposition, however some Democrats have already announced their position. The Senate’s third ranking Democrat Sen. (D-N.Y.) Chuck Schumer announced his opposition earlier this month, according to Reuters. Sen. Menendez is the second Congressional Democrat to officially announce his opposition.

As former chair and current ranking member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Menendez is familiar with international proliferation issues and worked on legislation surrounding the Iranian deal. He has followed Iran’s nuclear history for the past two decades and has experienced noncompliance on the part of Iran in international treaties, including the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Sen. Menendez said this deal “recommits Iran to a promise that they have already violated in the past,” recounting their secretive sites of uranium enrichment and centrifuge research and development.

In a full Jubilee Auditorium, Sen. Menendez gave the address in front 18 video cameras. The event was streamed live on the Senator’s official website. Although this event took place on the South Orange campus, there were only around two dozen SHU students and faculty in attendance.

U.S. ally Israel is strongly opposed to the agreement, publicized through statements by their Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as American Jewish organizations, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

According to the Diplomacy School’s Associate Dean Courtney Smith, the Senator’s office contacted the Diplomacy School, an academic entity he the Senator described as an “exceptional jewel,” last week asking them to host the announcement.

He recounted a detailed analysis of the documents and legislation surrounding the nuclear deal reached by the P5+1 (the U.S. and U.K., China, France and Russia, plus Germany) with Iran, citing the deal relies too much on Iranian compliance and does not provide enough snapback if Iran commits minor to medium offenses of the agreement.

He outlined what he believes to be a better agreement in which the current deal is rejected and the period for negotiations is extended in order for the United States to reconsider a few key issues including the ban of centrifuges, better access to suspect sites, extended duration of the agreement and an arrangement for sanction snapback, among other things.

Menendez made the decision to oppose the current deal based on a “principled agreement” with what he believes is in the U.S.’s best interest and said, “We want a deal, but we want the right deal.”

Emily Balan can be reached at

Author: Emily Balan

Emily is the news editor for The Setonian and writes for the news section. She also writes for The Diplomatic Envoy where she holds the layout & copy editor position. She will be graduating in spring 2016 from the School of Diplomacy with a BS in diplomacy and international relations and a BA in philosophy, with minors in French and journalism.

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