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Politics & Government

Sen. Schumer Sees 'Serious Weakness' In Iran Arms Deal, Won't Back It

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A powerful Democrat says he's opposing President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran. Senator Chuck Schumer published an article last night saying the agreement has serious shortcomings.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Schumer's decision is not a complete surprise. He's been skeptical of the deal for some time. But his move is significant. Congress has a chance next month to vote to block the Iran deal.

INSKEEP: Schumer is expected to be the next Democratic leader in the Senate. He's a longtime lawmaker from New York. And he is one of the nation's most prominent Jewish Democrats. He publicly talked over the Iran deal earlier this year in a speech before a Jewish group.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHUCK SCHUMER: Which is better, no agreement or an agreement that is not close to the ideal? And to me, there's not a clear-cut answer because each is (unintelligible).

GREENE: In that speech, Schumer said the deal that might look good enough to the United States could still be unacceptable to Israel. He said that even a small chance of a nuclear armed Iran was too great for Israel to tolerate.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SCHUMER: This is one of the most important decisions that I will ever make as an American as well as somebody who tries to be a Shomer Yisrael.

INSKEEP: Someone who tries to be a Shomer Yisrael, a guardian of Israel in Hebrew. In his post on Medium, Schumer said his decision reflects specific weaknesses in this deal, like some limits on nuclear inspection.

GREENE: He says the deal would be helpful in its early years but in later years would not do enough to restrain Iran's nuclear ambitions. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.