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Barack Obama

by Stephen Oryszczuk

U.S. President Barack Obama this week gained the upper-hand in his fight to save the nuclear agreement struck in Geneva last month with Iran, the UK, France, Germany, China and Russia.

The deal, which Israel is against, has been the subject of a fierce campaign by American Jewish groups led by influential lobbyists from AIPAC, who are spending millions to persuade Senators and Representatives to denounce it.

But on Wednesday, Congressman Steve Cohen, a Democrat representative from Tennessee, became the latest high-profile Jewish politician to announce his support. He joins Reps. Sander Levin, Jan Schakowsky, Adam Schiff and John Yarmuth, together with Sens. Brian Schatz, Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, in siding with Obama.

The ‘No’ camp had earlier scored one success, persuading New York’s influential Jewish Democrat Chuck Schumer to oppose the agreement, but that was not enough to stem the tide.

In a major embarrassment, Gary Samore, an arms control expert and president of one of the most prominent groups opposing the Iran nuclear deal, resigned because he decided to support the deal.

Elsewhere, there were cracks in the GOP opposition, when former Sen. Richard Lugar, a respected Republican who chaired of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also came out in favour.

Away from Capitol Hill, there were signs that U.S. Jews were split on the issue, when 340 American rabbis from all denominations came out in favour, in an open letter criticised by Israeli ministers.

In the letter, the rabbis said: “We are deeply concerned with the impression that the leadership of the American Jewish community is united in opposition to the agreement. We, along with many other Jewish leaders, fully support this historic nuclear accord.”

This week also saw 75 arms control and nuclear non-proliferation experts sign a statement endorsing the agreement, in yet another PR coup for Obama. Among the signatories were former CIA agents, senior government advisors and Hans Blix, the ex-head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Their statement follows a letter earlier this month, signed by 29 prominent scientists, which said the deal has “more stringent constraints than any previously negotiated non-proliferation framework”.