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Former ambassadors to Israel back Iran nuclear deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Seven former U.S. diplomats and State Department officials sent a letter Monday to leaders in Congress urging them to support the nuclear deal with Iran.

Those for and against the international agreement with Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief are engaged in a verbal battle to lobby lawmakers. Congress has 60 days to review it, vote to approve or disapprove of the deal or take no action.

The views of those opposed align with statements by Iraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who staunchly opposes the deal. Iran has threatened to annihilate his nation.

Former ambassadors to Israel — James Cunningham, William Harrop, Daniel Kurtzer, Thomas Pickering and Edward Walker Jr. — signed the letter as has R. Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary of state for political affairs and ambassador to NATO, and Frank Wisner, former undersecretary of state for international security affairs and undersecretary of defense for policy.

“No agreement between multiple parties can be perfect or without risks,” the letter states. “We believe that without this agreement, however, the risks will be much higher for the United States and Israel. We see no fatal flaws that should call for the rejection of this agreement and have not heard any viable alternatives from those who oppose the implementation” of the deal.

Obama administration officials have made numerous appearances on Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers and convince them to approve the agreement.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew are to testify in support of the agreement before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Also this week, hundreds of members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee are to be on Capitol Hill to try to convince lawmakers to oppose the pact.

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