Democratic US Senator Booker backs Iran nuclear pact

WASHINGTON(Reuters) - Democratic U.S. Senator Cory Booker said on Thursday he would vote in favor of the nuclear agreement with Iran, calling the pact between world powers and Tehran "the better of two flawed options."

Mr Booker, who issued a statement explaining his position, brings to 35 the list of senators supporting the deal. All of them are President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats or independents who typically vote with them.

Mr Obama won a foreign policy victory on Wednesday when Senator Barbara Mikulski became the 34th senator to back the nuclear deal. Thirty-four votes in the Senate guarantees that Congress cannot override Mr Obama's veto of any resolution of disapproval against the agreement.

Mr Booker, who represents New Jersey, a state with a large Jewish population, had been seen as a Democrat who might vote against the deal, given the Israeli government's strong opposition to it.

"Make no mistake, this deal, while falling short of permanently eliminating Iran's pathways to a nuclear weapon, succeeds in either delaying it or giving us the credible ability to detect significant cheating on their part and respond accordingly," Mr Booker said in a statement that also described a variety of deep reservations about the accord.

New Jersey's senior senator, Mr Robert Menendez, is one of only two Senate Democrats who has announced he opposes the nuclear agreement.

Mr Booker's announcement left nine undecided Democrats in the Senate.

Deal backers are now trying to muster 41 votes in the Senate, which would let supporters block a disapproval resolution and keep Mr Obama from having to use his veto power.