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Hawaii congressional delegation cautiously optimistic about Iran deal

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    President Barack Obama, standing with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 14, 2015, after an Iran nuclear deal is reached. After 18 days of intense and often fractious negotiation, diplomats Tuesday declared that world powers and Iran had struck a landmark deal to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
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Members of the Hawaii Democratic congressional delegation were cautiously optimistic about the Iran nuclear agreement and pledged to carefully review its details.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz called the agreement a “watershed moment in our pursuit to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.”

But he cautioned that the U.S. must remain vigilant to ensure Iran’s compliance.

“Our guiding principle must continue to be distrust but verify,” he said in a written statement.

“The pathway to implementing a deal to effectively prevent Iran from obtaining or developing a nuclear weapon is in sight,” U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono said in a written statement.

U.S. Rep. Mark Takai said he supports a diplomatic solution to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

“I look forward to an open debate on the merits of this deal, and hope that in the end it will meet standards that will help improve the regional security in the Middle East. The objectives of verification and dismantlement must be of the highest quality." Takai said in his statement.

On CNN, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said it’s important not to politicize the issue and “realy dig into the details of this deal.”

She said she wants to make sure inspectors will have access to Iranian nuclear facilities before economic sanctions on the country are removed.

“If you don’t have access anywhere any time in Iran then enforcement becomes something that’s difficult to do,” she said.

Under a law passed in May, members of the House of Representatives and the Senate will have 60 days to review the pact forged with the Tehran government, the United States, and five other world powers. At least eight committees in the two chambers will debate and hold public hearings on the pact. During the review period, President Barack Obama cannot lift U.S. sanctions against Iran, a provision of the nuclear deal.

President Obama has five days to submit documents on the deal to Congress.

Lawmakers then can decide whether to take up resolutions to approve or disapprove the deal, or they can choose not to act at all. A disapproval vote wouldn’t kill the deal, but it would keep Obama — at least temporarily — from lifting sanctions.

If Congress disapproves the pact, the ban on lifting sanctions would continue for 12 days, giving Obama enough time to issue a veto, which he vowed Tuesday. That period would then extend another 10 days, allowing Congress enough time to weigh overriding Obama’s action.

Critics of the deal acknowledge that getting the two-thirds majority in both chambers to override a veto would be difficult because it would require at least 13 Senate Democrats and 44 House Democrats to buck the White House.

Obama called House and Senate leadership Monday night and told them that the White House expected the deal to be announced Tuesday. He’s expected to play a hands-on role in selling the deal to Congress.

He’ll have lots of work to do.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the deal “will hand Iran billions in sanctions relief while giving it time and space to reach a breakout threshold to produce a nuclear bomb — all without cheating.”

“Instead of making the world less dangerous, this ‘deal’ will only embolden Iran — the world’s largest sponsor of terror — by helping stabilize and legitimize its regime as it spreads even more violence and instability in the region,” Boehner said. “Instead of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, this deal is likely to fuel a nuclear arms race around the world.”

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