U.S. Sen. Susan Collins finally revealed her opposition to the proposed Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday, calling it “fundamentally flawed” long after most of her colleagues announced their positions.

Collins, Maine’s fourth-term Republican senior senator, outlined her decision in a floor speech on a resolve that would disapprove the deal. She had been President Obama’s last chance for Republican support.

“The agreement is fundamentally flawed because it leaves Iran as capable of building a nuclear weapon at the expiration of the agreement as it is today,” she said. “Indeed, at that time, Iran will be a more dangerous and stronger nuclear threshold state – exactly the opposite of what this negotiation should have produced.”

Her vote will not change the outcome, however.

Because of legislation that passed this spring, Obama only needs support from 34 senators to ensure the deal stands. On Tuesday, he gained the backing of four previously undeclared Senate Democrats, giving him a 42-vote total, one more than necessary to potentially block a GOP disapproval resolution. Debate on the deal will continue Wednesday.



Like many Republicans, Collins wanted to publicly state her opposition and make it clear that Democrats and Obama will own this decision.

She said she initially supported the idea of the United States and five other nations negotiating with Iran to abandon its nuclear program. She was among only six Republicans who did not sign a highly publicized letter this spring to Iranian leaders designed to undermine the administration.

However, Collins said the eventual deal, which requires Iran to turn over some of its equipment and allows for close inspection of Iran’s facilities, did not do enough to ensure that Iran is blocked from building nuclear weapons in the future. She said she’s worried that the country will simply “bide its time,” until the agreement runs out in 10 to 15 years. The deal allows Iran to enrich uranium – a major component in nuclear weapons.

Collins also said the belief that Iran will use an estimated $100 billion in funds freed up by lifting sanctions to rebuild its economy is dubious.

“Iran today is the world’s foremost exporter of terrorism, pouring billions of dollars into terrorist groups throughout the region and into funding the murderous Assad regime in Syria,” said Collins, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “If Iran is financing, arming, and equipping terrorist groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, Syria and Yemen when its own economy is in shambles and its citizens are suffering, why would anyone believe that it would invest the proceeds of sanctions relief only in its own economy?”



Collins said she didn’t cast her vote lightly. She called it one of the most important foreign policy decisions the Senate has faced and said the “security of our nation and the stability of the Middle East, as well as America’s leadership in the world,” are at stake.

Collins studied the agreement and consulted a range of experts and administration figures before casting her vote.

Maine’s other U.S. senator, independent Angus King, already has said he supports the agreement.

During a forum in Portland last month featuring former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell and former U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns, King called the deal the best option available to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons in the immediate future.

“I agree with those who say this deal is not perfect,” King said at the time. “But the crucial question is not whether this is a perfect deal, but whether it is better than the likely alternatives.”

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