Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who famously helped negotiate the Belfast Agreement to bring peace to Northern Ireland, said last week he is strongly in favor of the Iran nuclear deal.
"If I were in the Senate I would vote to support the agreement," the former Democratic senator from Maine said while speaking at Patten Free Library in Bath, Maine on Thursday. He said that he believed the agreement would prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Mitchell added he thought Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon would be devastating for the world and lead to the number of countries with nuclear weapons to shoot up dramatically.
"It's taken us 60 or 70 years to go from zero to nine (countries with nuclear weapons) and I think we'll go from nine to 29 in just a few years," he said, adding it was "just plain commonsense," to try to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon through negotiations instead of war.
Mitchell said the idea of rejecting the deal and increasing sanctions would not work.
"That is not a realistic proposal for one simple reason," he stated, citing China and Russia as not willing to increase sanctions on Iran.
"Walking away means that the sanctions will dissolve," he added. "We'll keep them on but they will not have the same effect and Iran will then be free to proceed to a nuclear weapons and then our choice will be accepting them with a nuclear weapon or war."
Mitchell said he would tell Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "that he is wrong."
"In 1993, 22 years ago, he said that Iran was on the verge of getting a nuclear weapon," he said. "He was wrong."
Mitchell pointed to President Ronald Reagan negotiations with the Soviet Union to make the case for the deal. He said the president's opponents want to compare this agreement to a perfect agreement.
"No one," has presented an alternative, he added.
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Andrew Kaczynski at email@example.com.
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