Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is cool with President Barack Obama’s deal with Iran.
Mr. de Blasio–who argued “there is no closer relationship on earth, literally no closer relationship, than that between New York City and the state of Israel” during the campaign–told Politicker today that he has “a different view” from fellow New York Democrats like Senator Chuck Schumer who sharply criticized the recent agreement.
“I have a view that this piece of negotiations [is] a positive step but we must constantly monitor to see if the Iranian regime is keeping to the bargain,” said Mr. de Blasio, taking questions from reporters during an unrelated press conference.
“And if they don’t,” he added, “I think we should go even deeper with sanctions.”
Last weekend, the United States and other countries announced they had reached a temporary agreement with Iran to dial down economic sanctions against the country in exchange for concessions limiting their ability to produce nuclear weapons. Israeli officials and many foreign policy hawks in Congress slammed the agreement for allegedly weakening the Jewish state’s position in the region, but speaking today, Mr. de Blasio insisted Mr. Obama made the right call.
“I think we have had a strong set of sanctions during the Obama administration that have worked. We need to continue that focus. But I have to say, I think these negotiations are promising,” he said. “I think we have a first step–the administration has been clear: It’s only a first step. But for the first time in memory, the two nations are talking. I think that’s important; I think that’s positive. I think this could be the best way to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
Mr. de Blasio also made sure to tout his past work to strengthen sanctions against Iran while heading the public advocate’s office, where he called out companies like Nissan for doing business in the country.
“I’ve been very involved on the question of Iran. I started the Iran Watch List, which was an effort to uncover the fact that Western corporations were in fact were profiting from their business in Iran in a very substantial way, while simultaneously trying to profit from being in the American market. I don’t think that’s appropriate,” he argued.
Yesterday, another top New York official–Gov. Andrew Cuomo–told Politicker he was “proud” to sign into law the Iran Divestment Act, which was designed to further economically isolate Iran, but also that he didn’t feel the White House’s deal undermined his work on the matter. (He declined to elaborate.)