Secretary of State John Kerry brought the Obama administration's campaign for public and congressional support for the Iran nuclear deal to Philadelphia.
In a speech at the National Constitution Center, U.S. Kerry made the case that the agreement is the best way to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
"Rejecting this agreement would not be sending a signal of resolve to Iran, it would be broadcasting a message so puzzling that most people across the globe would find it impossible to comprehend," he told lawmakers and civic leaders.
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He said critics have presented no reasonable alternative and that rejecting it would damage America's standing in the world. Kerry also tried to dispel what the administration says are a litany of "myths" about the deal.
The speech comes amid a bitter partisan battle over the agreement in Congress, where no Republicans support it. In a bid to project bipartisanship, Kerry was introduced by former GOP Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, a rare Republican who supports the deal.
Yet for all the geopolitical ramifications, the debate in the U.S. has often seemed more about domestic partisan politics over a resolution that, on its own, wouldn't be able to reverse a multi-country agreement already blessed by the United Nations. A vote of disapproval, however, could signal Congress' readiness to introduce new sanctions at the risk of causing Tehran — and other governments — to abandon the accord and blame the U.S. for the failure.
Among American lawmakers, the debate has broken along party lines. Republicans, defending their congressional majorities and aiming for the White House in next year's elections, have denounced the deal in apocalyptic terms. The bulk of Democrats have rushed to the president's defense.
Obama on Wednesday secured enough votes to ensure the Iran nuclear deal survives in Congress. Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland became the crucial 34th vote in favor of the agreement.