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ND reaction to withdrawal from Iran deal falls along party lines

President Donald Trump announces the U.S. will withdraw from the 2015 accord to curb Iran's nuclear program and that he would reinstate financial sanctions on the Islamic Republic. He spoke from the Diplomatic Room of the White House on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Al Drago

BISMARCK — The reaction from members of North Dakota's congressional delegation to President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal fell along party lines Tuesday, May 8.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who voted for what she called an imperfect deal in 2015, said she "supported the agreement at the time because it was the best way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and keep American families safe." She raised concerns that pulling out now limits "options short of war for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran" and isolates the U.S. from its allies.

The agreement between six nations and Iran was reached under then-President Barack Obama and was meant to limit Iran's nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions against the country.

Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer, who is challenging Heitkamp this year, opposed what he called a "disastrous" nuclear agreement nearly three years ago, arguing it would boost Iran's ability to finance terrorist groups. On Tuesday, he said, while it's "too late to get back the money the Obama administration and Senate Democrats pumped into Iran's economy, I support the president's decisions to reimpose strong sanctions."

The North Dakota Republican Party said Heitkamp "endangered America and our allies" by supporting the Iran deal.

Heitkamp said she "agreed with the president that provisions constraining elements of Iran's nuclear program should be extended beyond what was originally negotiated" but now wants to see his plan to "rein in" Iran.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., who opposed the agreement, said Tuesday it "has not curbed Iran's nuclear ambitions" and "would still allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon after 2025," a claim some experts have disputed.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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