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WASHINGTON – On the floor of the U.S. Senate earlier today, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, delivered remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate announcing his support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed upon by Iran and the P5+1.

Below is the full text of Murphy’s floor remarks:

“One thing we all agree on here is that Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon. That's been the foundation of American policy for a long time and has been at the root of these negotiations. That's been our guidepost as a body. It certainly has been my guiding principle as I review the course of these negotiations and the agreement that's now before us. And that's because we know what a nuclear-armed Iran would mean for U.S. security, for Israeli security, for regional security.

"Not only would it make their provocations in the region even more dangerous by giving them a nuclear cover of protection, but it would also lead to a nuclear arms race in the region. That doesn't mean that Iran's unacceptable conduct begins and ends with its pursuit of a nuclear weapons program. This is one of the largest state sponsors of terrorism in the world. This is a country that's called for the obliteration of the Jewish state, still to this day chants for death to America. It’s a country that denies basic human rights and political liberties to its own citizens, executing and imprisoning thousands upon thousands of people who disagree with the regime. But this agreement and these negotiations from the beginning have been about the nuclear issue. It has not attempted to resolve all of these other very dangerous and malevolent behaviors that Iran engages in in the region. We frankly believe that we are more likely to deal with this other activity if we remove the question of a potential nuclear weapons arsenal cover from the equation.

"And so the test for this agreement is simple: is Iran less likely to obtain a nuclear weapon with this deal, or without it? And because I answer "yes" to this question – because I believe they are less likely to get a nuclear weapon with this agreement than without it – I am going to support the agreement when it comes before the senate for a vote this September.

"That doesn't mean that there aren't parts of this agreement that I find distasteful. I would have preferred for the duration of the agreement to be longer than the 10 to 15 years of many of its components. I would have preferred to have seen less conditions on the inspections and on our access to contested sites. I’d like for Congress's ability to impose new sanctions on non-nuclear activity of Iran to be clearer and less clouded as part of this agreement. But that being said, I think we achieved our objectives. Our negotiators achieved their objectives that they set out at the beginning.

"We have lengthened the breakout time from 2-3 months to now over a year. We have reduced by 95% the amount of stored nuclear material that is housed within Iran's borders. We get an inspection regime, which is absolutely unprecedented. No other country has been subject to this kind of inspection regime, not just at the declared sites – not just the ability to get to undeclared sites – but a view of the entire supply chain that backs up their nuclear program. An ability to snap back sanctions should they cheat – an ability that is not conditioned on the support of countries like China and Russia – and an international consensus that undergirds this entire agreement.

"But, Mr. President, to me this isn't a referendum on the agreement – the decision that we're going it make here. It's a choice. It's a choice between one set of consequences that flow from supporting the agreement and then another set of consequences that flow from a Congressional rejection of the agreement. And the set of consequences that occur, if Congress rejects this agreement, are pretty catastrophic. I would argue it would result in a big win for the Iranians. What would happen?

"Well, first the sanctions would fray, at best. At worst, they would fall apart. Iran would resume their nuclear program. Maybe they wouldn't rush to a bomb but they'd get closer. Inspectors would be kicked out of the country so we’d lose eyes on what Iran is doing. And for those that believe that we should just come back to the table later on and get a better deal, you have a pretty high bar to argue. You have to make a case that there are going to be a set of conditions that causes Iran to come back to the table in which they will agree to something different and more strenuous and more rigorous than they did today. How does that happen if the sanctions are weaker and their nuclear program is stronger? It doesn't.

"So this idea that you can get a better deal, to me, appears like pure fantasy.

"Mr. President, finally I want to just spend a few minutes talking about this juxtaposition that the president has created, that I know has caused some in this chamber to blanch. The idea that this is a choice between this agreement or going to war. I understand that that feels and sounds very unfair, because no one who votes against this agreement believes that they are voting to go to war. But I want to make the case that it's not as unfair as some may think it is.

"Because if there is no deal – if there is no ability to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon through a negotiation – and if you accept the premise that we are not going to stand still and do nothing and take a wait-or-see approach if they were to move closer to a bomb, then the only option is the military option. And I frankly think it's time that we start taking seriously, the rhetoric that we're hearing from some members of this body.

"Senator Cotton said this week that we could bomb Iran back to day zero if we took a military route to divorcing Iran from a nuclear weapon. Let's get back to reality for a second about what a military strike would mean. You can setback Iran's nuclear program for a series of years, but you cannot bomb Iran back to day zero unless you are also prepared to assassinate everyone in Iran who has worked on the nuclear program. Why? Because you can't destruct knowledge. You can't remove entirely from that country the set of facts that got them within 2-3 months of a nuclear weapon.

"And so I know that members bristle at this notion that the president is suggesting it's a choice between an agreement or war, but there are members of this body who are openly cheerleading for military engagement with Iran, who are oversimplifying the effect of military action, who are blind to the reality of U.S. military activity in that region over the course of the last 10 to 15 years. This belief in the omnipotent unfailing power of the U.S. military is simply not based in reality. We could setback the nuclear program for a series of years, but the consequences to the region would be catastrophic. And so I get that people don't like the choice that the president presents, but at some point we have to take Senator Cotton and his allies seriously when they continue to make the case for war and oversimplify the effects of a military strike.

"But let's be honest, this is all just a political agreement we're talking about here today. And so we do have to reserve the possibility that if all else fails and there is no other way to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, we may have to take military action. None of us I think have taken that wholly off the table. But a military strike, if it is necessary, is made more effective if this deal is in place. You'll have more international legitimacy if we try diplomacy first and Iran rushed to a bomb in the context of this deal. You'd have more partners in military action if we stuck together on this agreement. I won't say that war isn't an option, but I know that it is more likely to be successful and effective in the context of this agreement than without it. And I certainly would challenge anyone, Senator Cotton and others, who try to simplify the effects of a military strike or suggest that it is the immediate alternative to this agreement.

"Mr. President, in 1993, Yitzhak Rabin said, when talking about Israel's decision to recognize the P.L.O., that you don't make friends - excuse me – that you don't make peace with your friends, that you make it with very unsavory enemies. Diplomacy is never easy and the results of diplomacy are never pretty. And this isn't peace with Iran. We still reserve the right to fight them tooth and nail on their support for terrorism, their denial of the right of Israel to exist, their miserable human rights record. But the question still remains: is the world better off with this agreement or is the world better off if this agreement falls apart at the hands of the United States Congress, and we're right back to square one?

"Because I believe that Iran is less likely to become a nuclear weapon state with this agreement than without it, I’m going to support it. Mr. President, I yield the floor."