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Eye On Boise

Risch calls Iran deal ‘horribly flawed’ as Idaho delegation weighs in

Members of Idaho’s congressional delegation have sent out statements today sharply critical of the newly reached nuclear arms deal with Iran, with Sen. Jim Risch saying, “The West will have to live with a nuclear Iran and will abandon our closest ally, Israel, under this horribly flawed agreement.”

He, Sen. Mike Crapo, and Reps. Raul Labrador and Mike Simpson all expressed concern that the deal didn’t include release of Idaho Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been imprisoned in Iran since 2012 and received an eight-year sentence for attempting to build a Christian church network in private homes in the Muslim nation. Sen. Mike Crapo said he was “deeply disappointed” that Abedini’s release wasn’t part of the agreement, and called it a “bad deal.” Reps. Raul Labrador and Mike Simpson said they will closely review the details of the agreement; Simpson pronounced himself “skeptical,” and Labrador said the continued holding of Abedini and other Americans “raises foundational questions of trust that should have been addressed before striking any deal with Iran.” Here are their full statements:

Sen. Mike Crapo:

 “I am deeply disappointed by the failure of the Administration to secure the release of Boise Pastor Saeed Abedini and other Americans being held prisoner in Iran. Their release should have been a prerequisite to beginning any negotiations in the first place, let alone a final agreement.  When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that no deal was better than a bad deal before a joint session of Congress, he was right.   Though I will fully scrutinize the deal in further detail as Congress begins the review process, initial reports indicate that the agreement is just that—a bad deal.  The Administration has repeatedly provided concessions to Iran and weakened our bargaining position with little, if any, assurances they will abandon their nuclear ambitions. The consequences of an agreement that leaves Iran’s nuclear program intact and allows the country to continue its aggression in the Middle East are monumental and pose a very real threat to the United States and the world.” 

Rep. Mike Simpson:

“I have serious concerns with the Iran nuclear deal.  So far, I am skeptical that this will really promote global security and reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation. I also have a hard time trusting a country to stick to its word after they have held Pastor Saeed Abedini hostage for over three years.  However, Congress has 60 days to review the fine print, and I intend to do so. ” 

Rep. Raul Labrador:

“I will carefully review the proposed agreement and decide whether it is a prudent replacement for the long-established sanctions aimed at blocking Iran’s attempt to build nuclear weapons. The Iranian government claims to want constructive engagement with the world. Yet, Iran refuses to free Boise Pastor Saeed Abedini, imprisoned since 2012. Last month the House unanimously called for the release of the U.S. citizens held in Iran, as well as information on any Americans who have disappeared. That these men remain captive is deeply disturbing and raises foundational questions of trust that should have been addressed before striking any deal with Iran.”

 Sen. Jim Risch:

"From the start, Congress was told by President Obama and Secretary Kerry there would be clear red lines for any deal with Iran. This deal violates every priority the administration initially laid out and crosses every red line that was initially drawn, from complete access to Iran's facilities and scientists to a robust inspection and verification regime. This deal allows Iran to accelerate its nuclear weapons development program and will provide international legitimacy to their program within a limited number of years. It also provides Iran with billions of dollars it will certainly use to fuel terrorism and instability in the world, just as it has done with the limited funds it had under the current sanctions regime.

"In addition, the deal shreds the legacy of arms control and nonproliferation that the United States has championed for decades - it will spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that will be impossible to contain. This deal falls disastrously short of what the Obama Administration originally promised and gives the Iranian government what it desires. The West will have to live with a nuclear Iran and will abandon our closest ally, Israel, under this horribly flawed agreement. In addition, the failure of the administration to secure the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini, which should have been a simple task, even at the outset of negotiations, has been ignored despite the chorus of pleas to achieve this goal."



Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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