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Utah congressional delegation says new nuclear deal with Iran needed

SALT LAKE CITY — Members of Utah’s all-Republican congressional delegation say President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear accord with Iran allows work to begin on a better deal.

President Trump announced Tuesday the U.S. is pulling out of the landmark international nuclear accord with Iran, declaring he’s making the world safer.

“The United States does not make empty threats,” the president said in a televised address from the White House.

Trump said the 2015 agreement that included Germany, France and Britain was a “horrible, one-sided deal that should never ever have been made.” He added that the U.S. “will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch says he “applauds” the president’s decision, calling the Iran deal “deeply problematic in substance and design.

“… For too long, it has been a substitute for any broader U.S. thinking on the region. With our withdrawal from the deal, we can now focus on working together, across the aisle and across the Atlantic, to counter Iran’s malign activities, from its nuclear weapons program to its human rights abuses,” Hatch said in a statement.

Rep. Chris Stewart said Trump’s decision means U.S. allies must now decide whether to follow suit and withdraw, or try to salvage what’s left of the deal.

“In the short term, it’s probably going to be a challenge (for the United States’ allies) and something we’re going to have to work through with them, but in the long term, I really believe (withdrawing from the accord) is going to be to our benefit and also theirs,” he said on KSL Newsradio’s “The Doug Wright Show.”

Stewart said world leaders have known for the past two years that the agreement was “tenuous.”

“The best evidence of that is the fact that we never submitted this to the United States Senate as a treaty because (President Barack) Obama knew that it would have been rejected,” he said. “It was never a ratified  treaty. It was only an agreement that only the previous administration had been a party to, and I think that prepared them a little bit for this possibility.”

Stewart said he had concerns about the agreement as it was being drafted.

“The foundation of it was built on deception. It never allowed us for true verification, and that’s  just a fact. It never allowed for the authentic verification that was necessary,” he said.

Stewart said the U.S. should immediately reach out to its allies and say, “OK, let’s continue the conversation.”

“I don’t the president intends to just walk away and turn his back on everyone of these parties and say, ‘Well, you guys fix it.’ I don’t think that’s his intention at all. I believe he will engage; I hope he engages,” he said.

“And let’s try to now negotiate something that we can feel comfortable about in the long run, and actually present it to the Senate as a treaty so we do have stability, so we do have certainly, so there’s isn’t this question about, ‘Will the next president change his mind?’ If we have a ratified treaty, that takes that question off the table.”

For Rep. John Curtis, the bottom line, he said, “is Iran cannot have nuclear weapons.”

Curtis recently spent a week in the Middle East as part of his first congressional trip with the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“I met some countries that wanted to withdraw and some that didn’t want to,” he said, “but unanimously they all wanted the same thing, which is a better deal. There’s some major weaknesses with the current bill that need to be addressed. Those primarily are better inspections.”

Curtis also wants to make sure Iran will not further develop ballistic missiles.

“By including a sunset provision in the original deal, it gave a path for Iran to eventually develop nuclear weapons. This was unacceptable,” Curtis said in a statement. “The (Trump) administration now needs to work with Congress to develop a meaningful approach to make certain that Iran will not attain nuclear weapons.”

Rep. Mia Love called the existing accord “highly flawed,” which is why say opposed the deal in the House, she said.

“The deal freed hundreds of billions of dollars to the leading state-sponsor of terror, which in turn spread chaos throughout the Middle East instead of using these funds for the benefit of the Iranian people who have suffered under their oppressive regime,” Love said in a statement. “The (Obama) administration made no effort to track these funds. The deal also failed to meet several objectives set forth by a bipartisan majority. Instead, the agreement merely presented guidelines for ramping up their nuclear program down the road.”

Love said a new plan is needed that “truly forecloses Iran’s pathway to a nuclear weapon.”

“We must ensure our decisions don’t enable and embolden Iran to sow and sponsor terror throughout the world. And we must ensure we do all this the right way — not just the expedient way — for the benefit of future generations,” she said.