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Blunt, McCaskill take different sides on Iran deal


WASHINGTON – Missouri’s two U.S. senators, Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill, have taken opposing sides on President Barack Obama’s international agreement with Iran that would lift crippling economic sanctions on the Middle Eastern nation in return for greater international oversight over Iran’s nuclear program.

The deal would cut the number of Iranian centrifuges by two-thirds of their current number, force the nation to dispose of its spent nuclear fuel in countries outside Iran, places limits on uranium enrichment and demands that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have access to Iran’s nuclear facilities in perpetuity, as well as some other stipulations.

Blunt, a Republican, made his position clear over a month ago when the final terms of the agreement were announced. He joined critics of the diplomatic agreement, stating that lifting the sanctions against Iran as well as allowing them to continue to pursue a nuclear power program would give Iran a greater chance of obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“By allowing Iran to become nuclear weapons capable and failing to provide for ‘anytime anywhere’ inspections, this deal gives Iran a free pass to cheat at its military sites with no access to U.S. inspectors,” Blunt said in a statement in July. “In return, the president agreed to give Iran hundreds of millions of dollars in sanctions relief. This deal undermines the security of our friends and allies and legitimizes Iran’s unapologetic sponsorship of terrorism throughout the Middle East.”

McCaskill, Missouri’s Democratic senator, did not make her final decision known until Thursday. In fact, she considered herself undecided on the issue as early as last week. Thursday, she released a statement that said while she did not believe the Iran deal was perfect, it was still worthwhile to pursue diplomacy over the alternative: no deal with Iran and lifted economic sanctions. She said after speaking with nations who hold Iran’s sanctioned money and that there was “no certainty that Iran’s resources will be withheld from them if America rejects the agreement.”

“This deal isn’t perfect and no one trusts Iran, but it has become clear to me that the world is united behind this agreement with the exception of the government of Israel,” McCaskill said in her statement. “I respect and understand those who oppose it but I have become convinced that it is more dangerous to Israel, America and our allies to walk away in the face of unified world-wide support.”