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North Hempstead officials urge opposition to proposed Iran nuclear agreement

A group of Democratic officials in North Hempstead is urging Congress to oppose the Iran nuclear development deal proposed earlier this month by President Barack Obama.

"We are confident many of the residents we represent are opposed to this deal," the officials wrote in a letter sent to members of Long Island's congressional delegation. The deal "will not be good" for the United States and Israel, officials wrote.

The letter was addressed to Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats, as well as Reps. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) and Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City).

The deal with Iran and six countries, led by the United States, must be approved by Congress. The plan would limit Iran's nuclear program. In exchange, the countries would ease economic and oil sanctions against the Mideast nation.

Officials in the town, home to large populations of Jews and Iranian-Americans, cited concerns from Israel, which opposes the deal. The town has "always been strongly supportive of and concerned about the security of Israel, the country most threatened by Iran," officials wrote.

Signing the letter were Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Clerk Wayne Wink, council members Anna Kaplan, Peter Zuckerman, and Lee Seeman, and Receiver of Taxes Charles Berman. Nassau County legislators Ellen Birnbaum (D-Great Neck), Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) and Judith Jacobs (D-Woodbury) also signed.

While Republicans in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail have criticized the pact, many Democrats have yet to outline clear positions.

Schumer is "carefully analyzing" the deal "because its implications are profound and far reaching," his spokesman, Angelo Roefaro, said.

Rice is reviewing the agreement "to determine if this is the best way to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon" spokesman Coleman Lamb said. Gillibrand aims to "assess whether we are better off with or without it," spokesman Marc Brumer said. Rep. Israel, in a statement, said "nothing I have read or heard so far alleviates the very strong skepticism" he has.

The officials who signed the letter said they have spoken to town residents, including many Iranian refugees, "who know and understand the situation in that country and the mentality of its leaders."

The officials, nearly all seeking re-election in the fall, said in the letter, "it is not easy for any loyal Democrat to oppose an important initiative of a President whose values we share and whose accomplishments we admire."

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