Anti-Iran lobby chief backs Iran accord, steps down

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Former US senator Joe Lieberman has been named chairman of “United Against Nuclear Iran.” (file photo)

Former US senator Joe Lieberman has been named chairman of “United Against Nuclear Iran,” as the lobbying group’s president steps down because he supports the nuclear agreement with Iran.

“UANI has led the effort to economically isolate the Iranian regime, and its bipartisan and international expertise makes it a highly respected voice on the merits of the Iran agreement,” Lieberman said in a statement Monday. “I am honored to assume this new leadership role at this important time.”

The former president of the anti-Iran group, Gary Samore, has come out in support of the nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries last month. 

Gary Samore is a former top Obama non-proliferation adviser who is now at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. (file photo)

“Senator Lieberman's foreign policy and national security expertise is highly respected and renowned around the world,” said the group's CEO, former ambassador Mark D. Wallace. “We could have no better leader.”

Lieberman represented Connecticut in the Senate for 24 years, first as a Democrat and later as an Independent.

Early this year, Wallace announced that UANI would launch a “multi-million dollar” ad campaign in the US, noting “a growing concern that US negotiators could be pressured into making dangerous concessions in order to cement a deal.”

Mark Wallace, former US ambassador to the United Nations and chief executive officer of United Against Nuclear Iran, speaks at a forum sponsored by US Rep. Grace Meng at the Forest Hills Jewish Center on October 10, 2013. (file photo)

Nearly one-third of the mysterious pressure group’s 2013 budget came from the nation's foremost Republican megadonor, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, according to tax documents.

Sheldon Adelson (AFP photo) 

The Republican-led Congress is expected to vote next month on the nuclear agreement with Iran. White House officials anticipate lawmakers will pass a resolution of disapproval, which President Barack Obama says he will veto.

Obama, who is striving to preserve the nuclear pact on Capitol Hill, says congressional Republicans are opposing the deal for political reasons.

"Unfortunately, a large portion of the Republican Party, if not a near unanimous portion of Republican representatives, are going to be opposed to anything that I do," he told NPR News on Sunday.

AIPAC, the most potent pro-Israel lobbying group in the US, is spending about $40 million to run TV advertisements in 35 states urging legislators to vote down the agreement. It is leaning hard on Democrats as most Republicans are already against the Iran deal.

Nearly 60 legislators--22 Democrats and 36 Republicans-- from the US House of Representatives are visiting Israel in a trip funded by the American Israel Education Foundation, the charitable arm of AIPAC.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland, and 21 freshman House Democrats met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for more than two hours on Monday.

Representative Hoyer (second left) listens as Netanyahu addresses the press, August 9, 2015.

After the meeting, Hoyer, who claims he is still undecided about the Iran agreement, said it was clear that the Israeli premier anticipated a “no” vote in the US Congress.

Netanyahu and his Republican allies in Congress are trying to convince as many Democrats as possible to reject the nuclear accord.

Senator Chuck Schumer, an influential Jewish Democrat from New York, announced his opposition to the Iran agreement last week.


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