Updated: US Sen. Chris Coons Supports Iran Deal - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Updated: US Sen. Chris Coons Supports Iran Deal

Posted: Updated: Sep 02, 2015 07:55 AM
U.S. Sen. Chris Coons speaks Tuesday during a press conference at the University of Delaware in Newark (Photo: WBOC) U.S. Sen. Chris Coons speaks Tuesday during a press conference at the University of Delaware in Newark (Photo: WBOC)

NEWARK, Del. (WBOC)- US Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, announced Tuesday afternoon during a press event at the University of Delaware that despite having "serious concerns," he will be supporting the Obama administration's Iran nuclear deal.

“I am voting to support this agreement not because I think it is perfect, or because I believe it is the mechanism to end nuclear proliferation in the region," Coons said in prepared remarks. "I am voting for this agreement because it is our most credible opportunity to lead a global community in containing an existential threat while preserving America’s ability to use economic power and military might to successfully dismantle a nuclear program should diplomacy fail."

Coons has been considered an important swing vote on the issue in Congress. The deal needs support from at least 34 senators to avoid being blocked.

Coons on Tuesday became the 33rd senator to announce their support for the nuclear deal. Other area senators supporting the deal include Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia. Earlier Tuesday, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., announced he would lend his support for it. 

Coons said during Tuesday's speech he was viewing the deal with eyes wide open and considering both its flaws and potential. He said it was a deal based on distrust.

Coons said he was getting a lot of pressure on both sides of the debate on this vote. The American Security Initiative, a political action group formed by former US senators opposed to the deal, spent thousands on local TV spots urging Coons to oppose the deal.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, a top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, told students at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore on Tuesday he still had not made up his mind on the deal.

Cardin said he expects the number of Democrats and independents backing the deal to reach 34 by the end of the week. 

No Republicans members of Congress have come out in support of the nuclear deal.

John Fluharty, executive director of the Delaware Republican Party, listened to the speech. He said its message was clear, and he feels sorry for Coons.

"His party's president backed him into a corner and didn't leave the United States or our allies any other opportunity except what is a bad deal," said Fluharty.

Coons told reporters at the event a major part of his decision-making process was looking at if there was a better alternative to the deal.

"I think I have a responsibility if I vote against it to have a better alternative. Other colleagues of mine don't have that viewpoint," he said. "They think our job is simply is it good or is it bad with no eye to the consequences."

Many have called for the US to go back and negotiate a better deal. Coons said that would only create more uncertainty.

Coons said he wrote to President Obama recently with a series of concerns. He got a reply from the president Tuesday, which addressed those concerns. The senator said he helped him land on the final announcement.

In that response letter to Coons seeking his support for the deal, Obama pledged the agreement would not foreclose any options for the U.S.

"It does not take away any of our own capacity to respond to Iranian threats to our friends and allies in the region, particularly Israel," the president wrote in the letter released Tuesday by Coons' office.

The full transcript of Sen. Coons' announcement here.

Editor's note: The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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