CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s lone congressional Democrat said Tuesday that, although he was waiting to pass judgment on the nuclear agreement reached by the United States, Iran and several other nations, he was pleased that diplomats had reached the agreement in the first place.
Republicans from West Virginia also said they were waiting to pass judgment, but sounded decidedly less happy that an agreement had been reached at all.
“We haven’t been able to go through all of it. We finally got the 100 pages. Our staff is going through it as we speak,” Manchin said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday.
The agreement, which would last for 15 years, would nullify international oil and financial sanctions against Iran, in return for Iran agreeing to limit its nuclear production capacity and its nuclear fuel stockpiles.
“If you look back in history,” Manchin said, “there were negotiations in 2003 with Iran to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon. We backed away.
“At that time, they had less than 200 centrifuges, maybe only 160 centrifuges, to enrich uranium. There were no negotiations since then to the present. Now, they have 19,000 centrifuges. They have more than they ever had before.”
The new agreement would require Iran to drop that level to 5,000 centrifuges. The agreement would also contain sanctions if Iran violates its terms.
“I want to make sure triggers are there and that sanctions could come back with a vengeance. The sanctions would be very harmful to Iran and the Iranian economy,” Manchin said. “The Iranians don’t trust the United States. And the United States certainly does not trust Iran. But this is not about trust. We will see if they are willing to live up to what they agreed to do.”
In a statement released later Tuesday, Manchin called the deal “an opportunity to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
“I believe that American strength is rooted in both military might and diplomacy, and I am pleased that we have given diplomacy a chance,” he said.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., questioned the proposed agreement in a statement she released after the agreement was announced.
“The threat a nuclear-armed Iran poses to the United States and our allies is grave…