Maine’s congressional delegation reacted mostly along partisan lines to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal Tuesday.

Independent Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with Democrats, and Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, criticized the decision, while Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Bruce Pingree, R-2nd District, said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was a flawed agreement that left Iran capable of building nuclear weapons once the agreement expired.

Here’s what Maine’s members of Congress said:

Sen. Susan Collins (R) – “I have long believed that a verifiable diplomatic agreement with Iran that dismantled its nuclear infrastructure and blocked its pathways to the development of a nuclear weapon would make the world far safer. Unfortunately, that was not the agreement the Obama administration negotiated in 2015, and for that reason I did not support it.

“The 2015 agreement is fundamentally flawed because it leaves Iran as capable of building a nuclear weapon at the expiration of the agreement as it was when it first went into effect. …

“As we move forward, the Iranian threat remains a serious national security problem in urgent need of an effective and permanent solution. I do hope that the Trump Administration will embark on an aggressive effort, alongside our allies, to counter it through a strong, revised agreement.”

Sen. Angus King (I) – “I believe that this is the wrong choice for America’s national security, and I’m not alone in that opinion: a number of top administration officials – including Secretary (of Defense James N.) Mattis – have asserted that it is in the interests of the United States to remain in the deal. …

“While I acknowledge this deal is neither comprehensive nor perfect, it has by all accounts effectively hindered Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons in the near-term. At a moment when our country already faces serious threats across the globe, the decision to unilaterally withdraw from the JCPOA strains our relationships with key allies, strengthens the hand of Iranian hard-liners, escalates an already concerning matter of national security, and could motivate Iran to accelerate its efforts to develop nuclear weapons – particularly given that the administration has not yet proposed an adequate strategy to deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions outside of the agreement.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D) – “President Trump’s decision to unilaterally break the Iran nuclear deal is unjustified, reckless and will make our country less safe.

“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was working. United Nations inspectors have certified that Iran has been abiding by its obligations to stop nuclear weapons development activities and increase transparency of its facilities. Just two weeks ago, Secretary of Defense (James N.) Mattis testified before Congress that the JCPOA’s inspection regime ‘was actually pretty robust.’

“President Trump is putting his personal whims above our national security interests. …

“None of us wants a nuclear Iran. We should build off the JCPOA to address Iran’s missiles and support for terror, not rip up a functioning agreement. President Trump offers no alternative other than tough-guy rhetoric. This misguided decision risks putting Iran back on the nuclear weapons development track.”

Rep. Bruce Poliquin, (R) – “Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and they cannot be trusted. This was a horrible deal that was rejected by a majority in Congress and that I have long opposed. This deal did not go far enough in ensuring Iran would eliminate their nuclear weapons program, while at the same time lifting critical economic sanctions on the regime and guaranteeing the freeing up of billions of dollars in assets. I have long feared that this deal would make Americans less safe.

“As the author of the Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act – which passed the House with broad, bipartisan support last year—I am committed to protecting our homeland, exposing Iran’s regime finances and terrorism ties, standing with our ally Israel, and keeping Americans safe.”

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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