Bill Nelson not affected by Chuck Schumer decision on Iran nuclear deal

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During the middle of Thursday night’s GOP presidential debate, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, considered a key influential lawmaker on the proposed nuclear deal with Iran, issued a statement announcing that he would oppose the proposal reached last month between the P5+1 Countries and Iran.

“After deep study, careful thought and considerable soul-searching, I have decided I must oppose the agreement and will vote yes on a motion of disapproval,” Schumer wrote in a 1,600-word post on the website Medium.

Schumer was under intense pressure by the New York media to make a decision sooner rather than later on the proposal, which  would remove the economic sanctions imposed on Iran in exchange for access to potential nuclear sites. Some analysts had said that his ultimate decision could affect whether or not Obama can get the 34 votes necessary in the Senate to override a veto of the deal.  But the only Democratic Senator to weigh in on the deal on Friday, Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin, announced her support, becoming the 16th Democrat to do so.

In his statement, Schumer said that the 24-day delay in inspecting nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s inspectors was “troubling.”

But Florida Senator Bill Nelson, another Democrat who came out in support of the deal earlier this week, says he’s not worried about that. He says that U.N. weapons inspectors will have “instantaneous inspections” at declared Iranian nuclear sites in Natanz, Fordow and Arak.

“The suspected covert sights, there’s a process that you go through,” the Florida Senator told Florida Politics on Friday. “The maximum delay it could be is three weeks. You simply cannot hide enriched uranium that has a half-life of thousands of years. You simply cannot hide that by painting over it, or asphalting over it. And therefore, combine that process with our intrusive intelligence that over the course of the next 15 years is going to be so much greater in our understanding of our attempts at trying to cheat, I am very convinced that we will have an Iran that will not have a nuclear weapon for the next 15 years. And the world will be a different place in 15 years. And I think having an Iran not even having the chance of a nuclear weapon in 15 years compared to having one now, within a few months, that’s a pretty easy choice for me, as to what’s in the best interests of the United States.”

In his speech on the floor of the Senate where he announced his support for the proposal, Nelson said it was one of the most important votes in Senate career, which began nearly 15 years ago. The Senator said today that in the lead-up to his decision, he had spoken to “everybody and his brother and sister” in order to fully briefed on his critical decision.

“I’ve talked to all of the opposition; I’ve spent a lot of time with the Israeli Ambassador,” he said, referring to Ron Dermer, a Miami Beach native. “I’ve spent time talking to the Israeli Government. I’ve talked to a very vibrant, and very large Jewish community here in our state. I’ve talked to everybody about this, and it became very clear to me, for the interests of our country and our allies, this is the thing to do.”

Nelson added that he believes that there will be 34 votes in the Senate to give President Obama a veto-proof number of Senator to have the deal passed. The president also needs to a minimum of 146 votes in the House, as well. The Congress must weigh in by mid-September.

Nelson spoke at this Tampa district office on Friday afternoon. He and the rest of the Senate is now on break until, returning the week of September 7.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.