36 Retired U.S. Generals and Admirals Announce Support of Iran Deal

Deal is 'most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,' high-ranking officers say in letter, adding that military action only possible after diplomatic path exhausted.

AP

Thirty-six retired U.S. generals and admirals published an open letter on Tuesday announcing their support of the Iran deal "as the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons."

"The international deal blocks the potential pathways to a nuclear bomb, provides for intrusive verification, and strengthens American national security," the high-ranking officers explained in the letter.

The letter goes on to say that international military action against Iran, should it be necessary, would only be possible if the diplomatic path is exhausted first.

The signatories include officers from every branch of service and include Gen. James Cartwright, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, a former Commander in Chief of the Central Command; and Gen. Merrill McPeak, former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force.

Among the letter's signatories was also Retired Navy Rear Adm. Harold L. Robinson, a rabbi and former naval chaplain, who told The Washington Post that he decided to sign the letter to show that “those of us who love Israel in the United States are not of one mind and one voice on this matter. I thought it was important to represent some of the diversity within the American Jewish community.”

“As a lifelong Zionist, devoted to Israel, and a retired general officer and a rabbi for over 40 years, and operating without institutional encumbrances, I have a unique perspective,” Robinson told the Post.

The letter follows a similar letter signed by 29 top U.S. nuclear scientists and arms control experts published last week, which also voiced support for the deal, calling it "innovative" and "unprecedented."

The U.S. Congress has until September 17 to vote on a resolution of disapproval of the Iran deal, which would eliminate Obama's ability to waive all sanctions on Iran imposed by the U.S. Congress, a key component of the agreement.

On Monday night, Republican Senator John McCain expressed confidence that enough U.S. senators will vote against the Iran nuclear deal. “I am confident we’re gonna get to 60,” McCain on "The Hugh Hewitt Show."

However, McCain, who is the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, warned that in order to then override a presidential veto of such a vote (called a resolution of disapproval), opponents of the Iran deal would have to enlist 13 Democrats to their side. A two-thirds majority, or 67 senators, will be needed to override President Obama, who has vowed to veto such a resolution.

Some Democratic lawmakers have already voiced their support of the deal, while others, including Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), said they would vote against it.

Also on Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry defended the agreement, deploying the argument that if the United States walks away from the nuclear deal with Iran and demands that its allies comply with U.S. sanctions, a loss of confidence in U.S. leadership could threaten the dollar's position as the world's reserve currency.

The retired generals and admirals' letter: