September 09, 2015

In Making Case For Iran Deal, Kaine Calls For 60 Vote Threshold & Pushes Back On Criticism From Vice President Cheney

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In remarks on the Senate floor today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations & Armed Services Committees and co-author of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, reiterated his support for the Iran nuclear deal while pushing back on Republican claims that the standard 60 vote threshold is unnecessary on a resolution of disapproval against the deal. He also addressed critical comments from Vice President Cheney about the deal in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute yesterday.

“The [Iran Nuclear Agreement Review] act was clear and understood by all that action in the Senate to pass either a motion of approval or a motion of disapproval, either one would be by a 60-vote threshold,” Kaine said in addressing Republicans’ procedural arguments. “We talked about this explicitly in committee. We talked about it before the vote on the floor. And we voted in favor of the act by a 98-1 margin. The majority party understood that as was indicated in the letter of 47 to the leadership of Iran. … We should stick with the agreement we made just a few months ago and treat this resolution of disapproval under a 60-vote rule.”

“There's nothing about this deal that involves trust,” Kaine continued. “That's why we've insisted that Iran subject itself to intrusive inspections by the IAEA for 25 years and then following that, to the additional protocol inspections required of all members. … The Vice President’s response to this, interestingly enough, is ‘wait, we can't trust IAEA inspections. They're going to do it wrong. They have the wrong protocol so we can't trust them.’ That argument has been made in this body before by the Vice President and others. Vice President Cheney promoted that we go to a war with Iraq, and he repeatedly made the case in 2002 and 2003 that we had to do that to stop Iraq’s nuclear weapons program.

“Two weeks before the war began, in early march, the IAEA issued a report indicating -- quote – ‘we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq.’ The Vice President then went to the airwaves with others and led a campaign to trash the credibility of the IAEA to say that neither the integrity of their inspections or their accuracy could be trusted. And after that, we entered into war against Iraq, saying that the IAEA was wrong, and what did we find? What we found was that the inspectors and investigators and engineers and scientists of the IAEA were right, and Vice President Cheney and others were wrong. We've been down the path before of trying to trash the IAEA and said they couldn't be trusted, and it was a horrible disservice to America and the world that we didn't give those inspections a chance.”

In closing, Kaine discussed how diplomacy with Iran strengthens, not weakens the credibility of an American military threat should Iran cheat or otherwise break the agreement.  

“Just as a strong military enhances diplomacy, strong diplomacy enhances our military might. And that's true in this case. If we do a deal, we get an Iranian pledge that they will never pursue, develop, or acquire nuclear weapons, caps on their program for 15 years and inspections forever. These tools will increase our intelligence, increase our legal justification to take military action if they break the pledge - that's in paragraph one of the agreement. And it will also increase the likelihood that America will have global support if military action is necessary. But what if we walk away from diplomacy now? We lose the military intelligence that inspections will give us. We give up a clear legal justification for military action if, God forbid, we should need it and we weaken the likelihood that other nations will support military action if it's necessary. In this case, diplomacy strengthens, not weakens, the American credibility of our military threat.”

Full transcript of Sen. Kaine’s remarks:

I rise to discuss this debate, the Iran deal. We've not had a national security issue during my time in the Senate that has received so much attention in committees, and on the floor of this body as this, and that's appropriate. The debate has been and will continue to be thorough and vigorous. I respect the views of my colleagues regardless of how they will vote on this matter.

I want to spend a few minutes recapping why I support the deal. I did speak on the floor early in August. Since that time a number of leaders have come out in support of the deal. Former Senators John Warner, Richard Lugar, Sam Nunn and Carl Levin, General Brent Scowcroft, General Colin Powell. Today, former head of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission Uzi Eilam. And after I talk about my reasons for support, I want to address three final points: one, the Republican argument on the floor today that it's wrong to have a 60-vote threshold for a vote on a resolution of disapproval; two, the arguments that Vice President Cheney made against the deal yesterday; and finally, the place of vigorous diplomacy as a tool of American strength.

First quickly to recap why I support the deal.

I support it because it's better than the status quo for 15 to 25 years. I don't compare it with a hypothetical alternative. You can create a hypothetical to justify your position. Let's just talk about the status quo. Before diplomacy started, Iran had rocketed ahead 19,000 centrifuges and 12,000 kilograms of enriched uranium, a plutonium reprocessing facility under construction and we had very few inspections. The system was very opaque. That was the status quo. The best description of the Iranian status quo was the description that Prime Minister Netanyahu made to the U.N. in September of 2012. That was a speech known because he drove bomb dialogue and a sort of cartoon, but if you go into the guts of the speech, he gave the description of where the Iranian program was. And then he concluded and he said this: I want to thank the international community because the sanctions you have imposed together have hurt the Iranian economy. But -- and here is the quote -- "we have to face the truth. The sanctions have not stopped the Iranian nuclear program. In fact, there is a pretty good argument that the sanctions accelerated the program.”  So if we go back to the status quo, it's an accelerated program with 19,000 centrifuges and enough enriched uranium for multiple weapons.

What we get with this deal for 15 years disabling two-thirds of the centrifuges, for 15 years rolling back enriched uranium to 300 kilograms, not even enough for one weapon, for permanently disabling the plutonium facility. For 25 years enhanced inspections, more than any nation has to comply with. We get in this deal much better than we would have with the status quo that existed before diplomacy, and that's why I support it.

The second point, the argument about the 60-vote threshold. I am surprised to hear arguments on the floor that it's somehow wrong to use a 60-vote threshold on this bill. When I was in my first few years in the Senate and in the majority the 60-vote threshold was used on everything: immigration, minimum wage, turning off the sequester. Sometimes we exceeded the 60-vote threshold. Many times we exceeded 50 votes, but we couldn’t get to 60 on minimum wage. We couldn’t get to 60 on turning off the threshold, but there was an insistence that we needed to get to 60 votes. I can't think of a single issue of importance in my first two years in the Senate where the 60-vote threshold wasn't invoked. As my ranking member, Senator Cardin mentioned, I was one of the co-authors of the Review Act under which we're now proceeding. The Act is clear and understood by all that action in the Senate to pass either a motion of approval or a motion of disapproval, either one would be by a 60-vote threshold. We talked about this explicitly in committee. We talked about it before the vote on the floor. And we voted in favor of the act by a 98-1 margin.

I think the majority party, the current majority party understood that as was indicated in the letter of 47 to the leadership of Iran. It was stated very plainly we would understand this to be a three-fifths, 60-vote, that's what happens in the Senate. We shouldn't change the rules now. The debate has been full, vigorous and fair. We’ve spent a lot of time on this and we're going to spend more, and that's appropriate. There's now a complete accountability because all 100 senators have declared exactly where they are on their position. We should stick with the agreement that we made just a few months ago and treat this resolution of disapproval under a 60-vote rule.

Point three, the Vice President's arguments yesterday, and I respond to them because I think Vice President Cheney basically made two arguments, and they are the two arguments that had been repeated in different ways on the floor. Let me address two main arguments.

Number one, we can't trust Iran. I agree. I think everyone on the Democratic side agrees, and there's nothing about this deal that involves trust. That's why we've insisted that Iran subject itself to intrusive inspections by the IAEA for 25 years and then following that to the additional protocol inspections required of all NPT members. The IAEA inspections, 130-plus inspectors in the country will enable us to catch Iranian cheating and give us the intel that will be incredibly helpful if we ever need to take military action against them.

It’s that inspection's intel that caused our two former colleagues, Senators John Warner and Carl Levin, chairs of the Armed Services Committee to write an article recently, “Why hawks should support the Iran deal”. Because inspections give us intel which increase the credibility of our military threat. The Vice President's response to this, interestingly enough, is, wait, we can't trust IAEA inspections. They're going to do it wrong. They have the wrong protocol, so we can't trust them.

Folks, that argument has been made in this body before by the Vice President and others. Vice President Cheney promoted that we go to a war with Iraq, and he repeatedly made the case in 2002 and 2003 that we had to do that to stop Iraq’s nuclear weapons program. Two weeks before the war began, in early March, the IAEA issued a report indicating, "We have, to date, found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq." The Vice President then went to the airwaves with others and led a campaign to trash the credibility of the IAEA to say that neither the integrity of their inspections or their accuracy could be trusted. And after that, we entered into war against Iraq, saying that the IAEA was wrong, and what did we find?

What we found was that the inspectors, and investigators, and engineers and scientists of the IAEA were right, and Vice President Cheney and others were wrong. We've been down the path before of trying to trash the IAEA and said they couldn't be trusted, and it was a horrible disservice to America and the world that we didn't give those inspections a chance. We shouldn't go down that path again.

The Vice President made a second argument yesterday. Here's a different and better strategy for dealing with Iran. The same strategy that the previous administration followed: heavy sanctions, threats of military force, no diplomacy. But the Cheney doctrine didn't work with Iran.

Under that strategy, the Iranian nuclear program rocketed ahead, centrifuges, enriched uranium growing by the day. The Prime Minister of Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu, acknowledged this before the U.N. in September of 2012, and when the Vice President was confronted by this, by Chris Wallace over the weekend on television, he had no answer for it. He couldn't answer for it because the fact of the advance of the Iranian program under that Cheney doctrine cannot be disputed.  I was interested in his speech yesterday when he tried to justify that that strategy had worked when they tried it, and again, he ignored it.

So if we go back to the preferred doctrine of no diplomacy, sanctions and military threat, we're likely to get what we just got before, and that's an acceleration of the Iranian nuclear program, and we should not go back down that path.

Let me conclude with a story about my favorite president, Harry Truman. Truman was a bold and courageous wartime president. He fought in World War I as a captain. He made tough decisions to use the atomic weapon in Japan. He came back to a war-weary Congress and said give military support to Greece against Soviet bloc expansion. He came back to a war-weary Congress and said we got to put troops into North Korea. Nobody will say Truman was a softie. He had military bona fides. Truman also was the president that made sure that America was the first nation to recognize the state of Israel, and he always held that as one of his proudest accomplishments, and it's one of the reasons that he's my favorite president.

Well, 70 years ago next month -- October 1945 -- President Truman did something that seems minor but was really important. He called reporters into his office at the White House, and he said, “I got something to show you.” He unveiled that he had redesigned the Seal of the Presidency of the United States. The seal is the eagle. The seal has the arrows of war in one hand and the olive branches of diplomacy in the other hand. Truman had redesigned the seal so that the eagle was now turned to face the olive branches of diplomacy before the arrows of war. This wartime president. And he explained, look, I’m a wartime president, and I’ll use military force, but American values are such that we should always prefer diplomacy before the military.

We've got the strongest military in the world, and as a Virginian, I am so proud of it. We use it when needed. I have voted twice in two and a half years in the Senate as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to use military force, and when I cast that vote, it's a very personal one for my state and for me and my family. These votes are the hardest votes we take. But Truman believed and I believe it is fundamentally a part of our values that we prefer diplomacy first, and before we use military action, we've got to be engaged in vigorous diplomacy with allies and adversaries if we can see a path to possibly create a more peaceful world.

Other presidents have reached the same conclusion, not only President Truman. President Kennedy in negotiating the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union. President Nixon in going to China when China was supporting the North Vietnamese against us. President Reagan negotiating against the evil empire, the Soviet Union, over their nuclear program, and now President Obama.  Our great presidents have realized that diplomacy isn't just for friends, diplomacy is important even and especially with adversaries if you can see a path – a possibility – a to a more peaceful world.

And Mr. President, here’s something that is fascinating: just as a strong military enhances diplomacy, strong diplomacy enhances our military might. And that's true in this case. If we do a deal, we get an Iranian pledge that they will never pursue, develop, or acquire nuclear weapons, caps on their program for 15 years and inspections forever. These tools will increase our intelligence, increase our legal justification to take military action if they break the pledge that's in paragraph one of the agreement. And it will also increase the likelihood that America will have global support if military action is necessary.

But what if we walk away from diplomacy now? We lose the military intelligence that inspections will give us. We give up a clear legal justification for military action if, God forbid, we should need it and we weaken the likelihood that other nations will support military action if it's necessary. In this case, diplomacy strengthens, not weakens, the American credibility of our military threat.

Trying diplomacy here will keep the world's attention on Iranian behavior. Walking away from diplomacy here will put the world's attention on American negotiating tactics and why we’ve decided to go it alone.

I believe we should send the message that we value diplomacy as a first option, just as President Truman did 70 years ago.

With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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AL DEFENDER EL ACUERDO NUCLEAR CON IRÁN, KAINE PIDE UN MÍNIMO DE 60 VOTOS y RECHAZA CRÍTICAS DEL EX VICEPRESIDENTE CHENEY

Video: Alta Definición Definición Estándar

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ayer en un discurso en el pleno del Senado, el Senador Tim Kaine, miembro de los comités de Relaciones Exteriores y Fuerzas Armadas del Senado y co-autor del Proyecto de Ley para la Revisión del Acuerdo Nuclear con Irán, reiteró su apoyo por el acuerdo nuclear con Irán y a la vez rechazó la afirmación republicana de que el mínimo usual de 60 votos no es necesario en un voto sobre la aprobación o desaprobación del acuerdo. También se expresó en contra de las críticas al acuerdo nuclear que hizo el Vicepresidente Cheney en el American Enterprise Institute este lunes pasado.

“El Proyecto de Ley [para la Revisión del Acuerdo Nuclear con Irán] fue claro y entendido por todos que toda acción en el Senado para aprobar una resolución de aprobación o desaprobación – cualquiera de las dos – requeriría 60 votos”, dijo Kaine con respecto a los argumentos republicanos sobre el proceso. “Lo discutimos explícitamente en el comité. Lo discutimos antes del voto en el pleno y lo discutimos al votar a favor del proyecto de ley por un margen de 98-1. El partido mayoritario lo entendió ya que lo indicaron en la carta de los 47 a los líderes de Irán. … Debemos mantener este acuerdo que hicimos hace unos meses y tratar esta resolución de desaprobación bajo la regla de 60 votos.”

“No existe nada en este acuerdo que esté basado en la confianza”, continuó Kaine. “Por eso hemos insistido que Irán se someta a las inspecciones invasivas de la OIEA [IAEA, por sus siglas en inglés] durante 25 años y luego a las inspecciones adicionales que se les requiere a todos los miembros. … La respuesta del vicepresidente, curiosamente, es ‘espera, no podemos confiar en las inspecciones de la OIEA. Se van a equivocar. Tienen el protocolo equivocado, así que no podemos confiar en ella”. Ese argumento ya fue hecho en este cuerpo legislativo por el vicepresidente y otros. El vicepresidente Cheney promovió la guerra con Irak y argumentó repetidamente, en el 2002 y 2003, que teníamos que ir a la guerra para poner fin al programa de armas nucleares de Irak.

“Dos semanas antes del comienzo de la guerra, a principios de marzo, la OIEA declaró que ‘hasta ahora, no hemos descubierto evidencia o indicaciones probables del resurgimiento de un programa de armas nucleares en Irak.’ El vicepresidente y otros entonces fueron a los medios, entablaron una campaña para destrozar la credibilidad de la OIEA y decir que no podíamos confiar ni en la integridad ni en la precisión de sus inspecciones. Después comenzamos la guerra en contra de Irak, diciendo que la OIEA se había equivocado y ¿qué descubrimos? Descubrimos que los investigadores, los ingenieros y los científicos de la OIEA habían tenido razón y que el Vicepresidente Cheney y otros se habían equivocado. Ya hemos recorrido el camino de criticar a la OIEA y decir que no podemos confiar en ella. Y fue dañino para nuestro país y el mundo no darles la oportunidad a esas inspecciones.”

Al concluir Kaine habló sobre cómo la diplomacia con Irán fortalece y no debilita la credibilidad de una amenaza militar estadounidense si Irán llegara a violar las condiciones del acuerdo.

“Al igual que un ejército fuerte fortalece la diplomacia, la diplomacia fuerte mejora nuestra fuerza militar y es cierto en este caso. Si aceptamos este acuerdo, Irán jura que jamás buscará, desarrollará o adquirirá armas nucleares y acepta límites a sus programa por 15 años e inspecciones perpetuas. Estos instrumentos aumentarán nuestra inteligencia y mejorarán nuestra justificación legal a tomar acción militar si violan el acuerdo – eso se encuentra en el primer párrafo del acuerdo. Además aumentará la probabilidad de que los Estados Unidos tenga apoyo militar de todo el mundo si se requiere acción militar. ¿Pero qué pasa si abandonamos la diplomacia ahora? Perdemos la inteligencia militar que nos dan las inspecciones. Abandonamos una justificación legal y clara para tomar acción militar si, Dios no lo quiera, la necesitemos y reducimos la probabilidad de que las demás naciones apoyen la acción militar si es necesaria. En este caso, la diplomacia fortalece – no debilita – la credibilidad de nuestra amenaza militar.

Transcripción completa del discurso de Kaine, en inglés:

I rise to discuss this debate, the Iran deal. We've not had a national security issue during my time in the Senate that has received so much attention in committees, and on the floor of this body as this, and that's appropriate. The debate has been and will continue to be thorough and vigorous. I respect the views of my colleagues regardless of how they will vote on this matter.

I want to spend a few minutes recapping why I support the deal. I did speak on the floor early in August. Since that time a number of leaders have come out in support of the deal. Former Senators John Warner, Richard Lugar, Sam Nunn and Carl Levin, General Brent Scowcroft, General Colin Powell. Today, former head of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission Uzi Eilam. And after I talk about my reasons for support, I want to address three final points: one, the Republican argument on the floor today that it's wrong to have a 60-vote threshold for a vote on a resolution of disapproval; two, the arguments that Vice President Cheney made against the deal yesterday; and finally, the place of vigorous diplomacy as a tool of American strength.

First quickly to recap why I support the deal.

I support it because it's better than the status quo for 15 to 25 years. I don't compare it with a hypothetical alternative. You can create a hypothetical to justify your position. Let's just talk about the status quo. Before diplomacy started, Iran had rocketed ahead 19,000 centrifuges and 12,000 kilograms of enriched uranium, a plutonium reprocessing facility under construction and we had very few inspections. The system was very opaque. That was the status quo. The best description of the Iranian status quo was the description that Prime Minister Netanyahu made to the U.N. in September of 2012. That was a speech known because he drove bomb dialogue and a sort of cartoon, but if you go into the guts of the speech, he gave the description of where the Iranian program was. And then he concluded and he said this: I want to thank the international community because the sanctions you have imposed together have hurt the Iranian economy. But -- and here is the quote -- "we have to face the truth. The sanctions have not stopped the Iranian nuclear program. In fact, there is a pretty good argument that the sanctions accelerated the program.”  So if we go back to the status quo, it's an accelerated program with 19,000 centrifuges and enough enriched uranium for multiple weapons.

What we get with this deal for 15 years disabling two-thirds of the centrifuges, for 15 years rolling back enriched uranium to 300 kilograms, not even enough for one weapon, for permanently disabling the plutonium facility. For 25 years enhanced inspections, more than any nation has to comply with. We get in this deal much better than we would have with the status quo that existed before diplomacy, and that's why I support it.

The second point, the argument about the 60-vote threshold. I am surprised to hear arguments on the floor that it's somehow wrong to use a 60-vote threshold on this bill. When I was in my first few years in the Senate and in the majority the 60-vote threshold was used on everything: immigration, minimum wage, turning off the sequester. Sometimes we exceeded the 60-vote threshold. Many times we exceeded 50 votes, but we couldn’t get to 60 on minimum wage. We couldn’t get to 60 on turning off the threshold, but there was an insistence that we needed to get to 60 votes. I can't think of a single issue of importance in my first two years in the Senate where the 60-vote threshold wasn't invoked. As my ranking member, Senator Cardin mentioned, I was one of the co-authors of the Review Act under which we're now proceeding. The Act is clear and understood by all that action in the Senate to pass either a motion of approval or a motion of disapproval, either one would be by a 60-vote threshold. We talked about this explicitly in committee. We talked about it before the vote on the floor. And we voted in favor of the act by a 98-1 margin.

I think the majority party, the current majority party understood that as was indicated in the letter of 47 to the leadership of Iran. It was stated very plainly we would understand this to be a three-fifths, 60-vote, that's what happens in the Senate. We shouldn't change the rules now. The debate has been full, vigorous and fair. We’ve spent a lot of time on this and we're going to spend more, and that's appropriate. There's now a complete accountability because all 100 senators have declared exactly where they are on their position. We should stick with the agreement that we made just a few months ago and treat this resolution of disapproval under a 60-vote rule.

Point three, the Vice President's arguments yesterday, and I respond to them because I think Vice President Cheney basically made two arguments, and they are the two arguments that had been repeated in different ways on the floor. Let me address two main arguments.

Number one, we can't trust Iran. I agree. I think everyone on the Democratic side agrees, and there's nothing about this deal that involves trust. That's why we've insisted that Iran subject itself to intrusive inspections by the IAEA for 25 years and then following that to the additional protocol inspections required of all NPT members. The IAEA inspections, 130-plus inspectors in the country will enable us to catch Iranian cheating and give us the intel that will be incredibly helpful if we ever need to take military action against them.

It’s that inspection's intel that caused our two former colleagues, Senators John Warner and Carl Levin, chairs of the Armed Services Committee to write an article recently, “Why hawks should support the Iran deal”. Because inspections give us intel which increase the credibility of our military threat. The Vice President's response to this, interestingly enough, is, wait, we can't trust IAEA inspections. They're going to do it wrong. They have the wrong protocol, so we can't trust them.

Folks, that argument has been made in this body before by the Vice President and others. Vice President Cheney promoted that we go to a war with Iraq, and he repeatedly made the case in 2002 and 2003 that we had to do that to stop Iraq’s nuclear weapons program. Two weeks before the war began, in early March, the IAEA issued a report indicating, "We have, to date, found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq." The Vice President then went to the airwaves with others and led a campaign to trash the credibility of the IAEA to say that neither the integrity of their inspections or their accuracy could be trusted. And after that, we entered into war against Iraq, saying that the IAEA was wrong, and what did we find?

What we found was that the inspectors, and investigators, and engineers and scientists of the IAEA were right, and Vice President Cheney and others were wrong. We've been down the path before of trying to trash the IAEA and said they couldn't be trusted, and it was a horrible disservice to America and the world that we didn't give those inspections a chance. We shouldn't go down that path again.

The Vice President made a second argument yesterday. Here's a different and better strategy for dealing with Iran. The same strategy that the previous administration followed: heavy sanctions, threats of military force, no diplomacy. But the Cheney doctrine didn't work with Iran.

Under that strategy, the Iranian nuclear program rocketed ahead, centrifuges, enriched uranium growing by the day. The Prime Minister of Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu, acknowledged this before the U.N. in September of 2012, and when the Vice President was confronted by this, by Chris Wallace over the weekend on television, he had no answer for it. He couldn't answer for it because the fact of the advance of the Iranian program under that Cheney doctrine cannot be disputed.  I was interested in his speech yesterday when he tried to justify that that strategy had worked when they tried it, and again, he ignored it.

So if we go back to the preferred doctrine of no diplomacy, sanctions and military threat, we're likely to get what we just got before, and that's an acceleration of the Iranian nuclear program, and we should not go back down that path.

Let me conclude with a story about my favorite president, Harry Truman. Truman was a bold and courageous wartime president. He fought in World War I as a captain. He made tough decisions to use the atomic weapon in Japan. He came back to a war-weary Congress and said give military support to Greece against Soviet bloc expansion. He came back to a war-weary Congress and said we got to put troops into North Korea. Nobody will say Truman was a softie. He had military bona fides. Truman also was the president that made sure that America was the first nation to recognize the state of Israel, and he always held that as one of his proudest accomplishments, and it's one of the reasons that he's my favorite president.

Well, 70 years ago next month -- October 1945 -- President Truman did something that seems minor but was really important. He called reporters into his office at the White House, and he said, “I got something to show you.” He unveiled that he had redesigned the Seal of the Presidency of the United States. The seal is the eagle. The seal has the arrows of war in one hand and the olive branches of diplomacy in the other hand. Truman had redesigned the seal so that the eagle was now turned to face the olive branches of diplomacy before the arrows of war. This wartime president. And he explained, look, I’m a wartime president, and I’ll use military force, but American values are such that we should always prefer diplomacy before the military.

We've got the strongest military in the world, and as a Virginian, I am so proud of it. We use it when needed. I have voted twice in two and a half years in the Senate as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to use military force, and when I cast that vote, it's a very personal one for my state and for me and my family. These votes are the hardest votes we take. But Truman believed and I believe it is fundamentally a part of our values that we prefer diplomacy first, and before we use military action, we've got to be engaged in vigorous diplomacy with allies and adversaries if we can see a path to possibly create a more peaceful world.

Other presidents have reached the same conclusion, not only President Truman. President Kennedy in negotiating the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union. President Nixon in going to China when China was supporting the North Vietnamese against us. President Reagan negotiating against the evil empire, the Soviet Union, over their nuclear program, and now President Obama.  Our great presidents have realized that diplomacy isn't just for friends, diplomacy is important even and especially with adversaries if you can see a path – a possibility – a to a more peaceful world.

And Mr. President, here’s something that is fascinating: just as a strong military enhances diplomacy, strong diplomacy enhances our military might. And that's true in this case. If we do a deal, we get an Iranian pledge that they will never pursue, develop, or acquire nuclear weapons, caps on their program for 15 years and inspections forever. These tools will increase our intelligence, increase our legal justification to take military action if they break the pledge that's in paragraph one of the agreement. And it will also increase the likelihood that America will have global support if military action is necessary.

But what if we walk away from diplomacy now? We lose the military intelligence that inspections will give us. We give up a clear legal justification for military action if, God forbid, we should need it and we weaken the likelihood that other nations will support military action if it's necessary. In this case, diplomacy strengthens, not weakens, the American credibility of our military threat.

Trying diplomacy here will keep the world's attention on Iranian behavior. Walking away from diplomacy here will put the world's attention on American negotiating tactics and why we’ve decided to go it alone.

I believe we should send the message that we value diplomacy as a first option, just as President Truman did 70 years ago.

With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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