The nuclear deal with Iran will give the United States, Israel and other countries the “freedom” to confront Tehran”s support for terrorism and violations of human rights, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told Jewish groups Thursday, according to The Hill.
Speaking from Washington in remarks broadcast live online, Moniz told the gathering that the agreement with Iran could allow the U.S. to increase its attention on “other aspects of Iranian behavior that give us serious problems.”
“We are trying to increase security cooperation” with Israel and Arab allies, Moniz said in a webcast session coordinated by the Jewish Federations of North America.
“Doing so with the comfort that Iran does not have and will not have a nuclear weapon — the existential threat of a nuclear weapon — will, if anything, give us more freedom of action, if you like, in addressing all these other problems,” he added.
The webcast with Moniz included a lengthy discussion about the scientific components of the deal, which limits Iran”s nuclear powers in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, noted The Hill.
“The bottom line is Iran today is what we call a threshold state — it may not have a weapon today, but it has the capabilities and is very close to getting there if they choose to do so,” he said, adding, “This agreement pulls them way back from that threshold for a substantial period.”
The direct lobbying pitch to Jewish groups is part of a weeks-long effort to convince both the American public and members of Congress to back the deal ahead of a congressional vote scheduled for mid-September.
President Barack Obama, who has threatened to veto any legislation passed by Congress blocking the deal, is facing stiff opposition to the agreement but has been able to receive the support of some Democrats, the latest being Al Franken who announced his support on Thursday.
Moniz has been a top salesman on the deal and has become a favorite even of members of Congress who are opposed to the accord, noted The Hill.
Obama himself recently lobbied American Jews on the deal, describing it as historic and emphasizing that it would prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. He also made it clear that the U.S. will continue to support and help strengthen Israel’s security.
Obama”s meeting with the Jewish leaders came hours after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who opposes the deal. held a live webcast with American Jewish leaders, in which he warned against it.
A poll released earlier this week found that American Jews oppose the nuclear agreement with Iran by a margin of more than 2 to 1. That is, 45% of registered Jewish voters said straight out that they oppose the deal, while only 22% said they favor it.