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Iran Nuclear Deal Divides Toomey And McGinty

Jared Wickerham
U.S. Senate candidates Democrat Katie McGinty, left, and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey prepare for their debate in Pittsburgh, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016.

It’s been just more than a year since the Iran Nuclear Deal was signed. The controversial agreement between Iran, the United States and five other world powers puts limits on many of Iran’s nuclear programs in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. It’s one of the foreign policy issues on which U.S. Senate candidates Pat Toomey and Katie McGinty strongly disagree.

Officials in the Obama administration who negotiated the agreement said the deal is focused on stopping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and McGinty, a Democrat, supports it.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable to allow a nuclear Iran,” McGinty said. “This agreement has made significant progress in taking down some of Iran’s nuclear capabilities and the experts would say this pushes them back a decade in terms of their nuclear capabilities. That’s absolutely vital (because) Iran is not a friend to the United States. Iran is not a friend to Israel. Iran is not a force for good in this world.”

Toomey, the incumbent Republican, said he agrees with the latter part of that statement, but does not feel the Iran Nuclear Deal effectively hinders Iran’s ability to build a nuclear weapon.

“Some of their most notorious defensive sites, very, very large military-industrial complexes where they do their research, are off limits to our inspectors,” Toomey said. 

Toomey said under the deal, Iran can self-inspect, though according to a White House fact sheet, International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors will have "extraordinary and robust" access to the facilities. 

There is, however, an issue related to this deal on which Toomey and McGinty see eye to eye: Iran’s recent spate of precision-guided ballistic missile launches.

“They’re getting ever more sophisticated,” Toomey said. “It is in flagrant violation of the U.N. resolution that bans it and these missiles are designed to carry nuclear warheads. If they have decided to abandon their pursuit of nuclear weapons, then why are they spending millions of dollars and risking all kinds of repercussions developing a delivery system for nuclear weapons?”  

McGinty has also criticized the Obama Administration for the way it has dealt with Iran’s testing of ballistic missiles.

“We need to make clear to Iran that we mean business,” McGinty said. “No violation of any kind of any agreement, the Iran deal itself or U.N. resolutions will be tolerated. We need to act and act fast.”