Dold slams Iran nuke deal, Schneider says enforce it

Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Dold calls the United States' nuclear agreement with Iran "a historic mistake" that won't prevent that nation from getting a nuclear weapon.

His challenger for Illinois' 10th District seat, Democrat Brad Schneider, publicly criticized the deal after it was proposed last year - but now supports its enforcement.

The controversial pact is a top international issue in the race to represent the district, which includes parts of Cook and Lake counties.

It was signed in July 2015 by Iran, the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom and other nations. It gave Iran the right to have limited nuclear facilities but not nuclear weapons, and lifted some economic sanctions against Iran.

The White House and Democrats in Congress backed the deal, insisting it blocks Iran's path to nuclear weapons. They've since said it has led to changes in Iran, including dismantling some nuclear equipment and greater inspection of nuclear facilities.

Republican lawmakers overwhelmingly opposed it, saying it doesn't go far enough to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threat.

The deal also was soundly criticized by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders in that nation, the United States' primary ally in the Middle East.

Congress had a window to formally disapprove the deal last year, but Democrats blocked a Republican-driven measure in the Senate.

The nuclear deal is of particular interest in the 10th District, which has a sizable Jewish population.

"Iran's nuclear ambitions pose a significant security threat to the United States and to the state of Israel," said Rabbi Brian Stoller of Congregation B'nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim in Deerfield. "The next congressman from the 10th District will play a big role in dealing with this issue, and Jewish voters in our community want to know what the candidates will do to ensure that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon."

In a Daily Herald candidate questionnaire, Dold called the pact fatally flawed. He objected to allowing Iran to keep a nuclear infrastructure and criticized the relief from more than $100 billion in sanctions that will bolster its efforts to promote terror.

"Far from stopping Iran's nuclear pursuit, this agreement has emboldened Iran's dangerous behavior and fueled greater instability in the region," said Dold, of Kenilworth.

The deal, he said, "will haunt America's national security for generations if we continue to implement it."

Dold also is concerned about how the pact separates Israel and the U.S.

"Our national security is directly tied to the strength of Israel," he said.

Schneider, who is Jewish and lives in Deerfield, said the U.S. must ensure Iran's compliance.

"It is imperative that the United States lead in preventing Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon," he said in his questionnaire. "That requires vigorously enforcing the Iran deal while leaving all options on the table, including military force if necessary."

Yet, in multiple interviews and public statements, Schneider has expressed concerns about the agreement.

He complained about a lack of enforcement mechanisms and the legitimization of Iran as a nuclear state, and questioned what Iran will do with the cash it will receive after sanctions are lifted.

Those objections cost him the support of former U.S. Rep. Abner Mikva and former U.S. Sen. Adlai E. Stevenson III. Both backed Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering in the Democratic primary.

Despite his earlier criticisms, Schneider said he's "committed to making sure this deal works."

"Now that it is in force, unilaterally walking away from the (pact) would irresponsibly leave Iran with all of the benefits of sanctions relief, and leave the U.S. with none of the critically important oversight of Iran's nuclear program," he said in a later interview.

Anyone who suggests scrapping it "(is) playing dangerous political games with the security of the region, Israel and the world," he said.

This is the third electoral showdown between Dold and Schneider. Dold lost the seat to Schneider in 2012 but won it in a 2014 rematch.

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10th District Dems spar over Iran, health care on 'Chicago Tonight'

Schneider ready for rematch with Dold for 10th House seat

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