Welch Works To Convince Congress On Iran Nuclear Deal
Welch says if Congress rejects the deal, it will set up a "very dangerous" situation in the Middle East that could end in war.
As one of the ten chief deputy whips in the Democratic caucus, Welch's job is to persuade his fellow Democrats to support the party's position on specific legislation.
But he says his job on this issue is quite different. That's because Welch says this is a "vote of conscience" for many of the caucus members.
"The effort I'm making is to respect my colleagues for having questions that have legitimacy and trying to find" the experts or officials to a answer those questions, Welch said.
Under the terms of the deal, Iran will significantly reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium and centrifuges.
In return, economic sanctions that have been imposed on Iran will be lifted. There's also a process to end the embargo on weapons and missile technology over a period of years.
Welch says he's very concerned about what will happen in the Middle East if Congress rejects the agreement.
"I think it would be very dangerous because then it allows Iran — which before the agreement was two to three months away from a nuclear weapon — to go full speed ahead," Welch said.
Welch says he has attended classified briefings on this issue and he's convinced that international inspectors will be able to keep tabs on Iran's nuclear program.
"I'm confident that the monitoring is the strictest we've ever seen in a nuclear deal and we have the realistic ability to "snap back" sanctions on our own without having to get approval of everyone else. So there are real enforcement mechanisms here," he said.
"I'm confident that the monitoring is the strictest we've ever seen in a nuclear deal and we have the realistic ability to 'snap back' sanctions." - Rep. Peter Welch
Welch says the bottom line is that the United States can take military action against Iran if Iran tries to develop a nuclear weapon.
"The United States, whoever is president, will retain the option to use a military option if in fact that president believes, he or she, that it's required for our national security interest," he added.
Welch says it's very likely that the House will vote to reject the Iran agreement when it comes up for debate next month.
But he says it's uncertain if opponents in the House have enough votes to override President Obama's expected veto of that bill.