U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan has announced his support for the Iran nuclear agreement, becoming the latest area legislator to weigh in on the controversial deal.
President Barack Obama is pushing for approval of a deal that would put limits on Iran's ability to produce enriched uranium for the next 15 years among other stipulations.
Opponents say the deal does not provide for enough oversight because of limitations on inspections and could lead Iran to produce weapons-grade uranium after some of the program's major sanctions lapse.
"First, America's objective is to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon," Nolan said in a news release Sunday. "Iran currently possesses the capacity to build a bomb in as little as 30 days. The agreement pushes that timeframe back to at least a year-and-a-half by removing two-thirds of its centrifuges for processing uranium and 98 percent of its enriched uranium stockpile."
Nolan, D-Crosby, joined Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar in supporting the agreement. Klobuchar was among the first to support the deal, earlier this month, saying in a statement, "I have deep respect for those who hold different views on this subject and acknowledge that this was a difficult decision."
Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin has also expressed her support, while Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, recently spoke out in a town hall meeting against the deal.
Nolan said he reviewed the text of the agreement, attended hours of classified briefings, met with experts and heard from Minnesotans on both sides of the issue before reaching his decision.
"There is no better alternative to the agreement," Nolan said. "If the deal is rejected, our allies will desert us, international economic sanctions will fall apart, and a terribly expensive and destructive war in the Middle East will become a real possibility as Iran redoubles its efforts to develop a nuclear bomb.
"And Israel," Nolan continued, "our one true ally in the region, will be put in terrible danger."
Nolan said he was comfortable with the deal's inspections being tough - including camera access and live tracking of uranium mining and other processes - and not solely based on trust.
Finally, he added the "crippling" international sanctions on Iran's economy that forced the agreement in the first place will not be fully lifted until the required 98 percent reduction of Iran's enriched nuclear stockpile is fully verified.
"If Iran is found to be violating the agreement, the sanctions will snap back," Nolan said.