August 17, 2015

By Jonathan D. Salant  

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a statement on the Iran talks deal at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria Tuesday July 14, 2015. After 18 days of intense and often fractious negotiation, world powers and Iran struck a landmark deal Tuesday to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions, an agreement designed to avert the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran and another U.S. military intervention in the Muslim world. (AP photo | For

WASHINGTON — Congress next month will consider whether to approve or disapprove  a nuclear deal with Iran.

Under the agreement, Iran would curb its nuclear program for more than 10 years in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. The deal would free up more than $50 billion that has been frozen and reopen Iran to doing business with foreign countries.

Both of New Jersey’s Democratic U.S. senators, Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, have yet to announce whether they will support the agreement. Menendez, a former Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, has been critical of elements of the deal and is scheduled to announce his position on Tuesday.

Millions of dollars are being spent by both sides to sway undecided lawmakers. The Forward, a weekly Jewish newspaper, named Booker one of the 13 undecided Democrats to watch on the deal.

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Opponents of the deal say that it will allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon after 10 years, during which time the U.S. and its allies will face a stronger country that has used its unfrozen assets to support aligned terrorist groups in the Middle East. They said the U.S. should force Iran back to the negotiating table.

“From my seat on the House Intelligence Committee, this deal as outlined will only further jeopardize the security and stability of our allies in the Middle East,” U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd Dist.) said last month.

Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking at a briefing for Washington reporters from local newspapers earlier this month, said Iran won’t reopen talks and ongoing monitoring after the 10-year period will give the U.S. and its allies plenty of time to prevent development of a nuclear weapon.

“If you don’t have a deal, you have no inspections, you have no restraints,” Kerry said.

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Jonathan D. Salant may be reached at Follow him on Twitter  @JDSalant. Find Politics on Facebook.