Reject Deal That Makes World Less Safe
First appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer
When President Obama agreed to the interim pact with Iran in November 2013, he laid out specific goals for the negotiations that soon followed: The complete elimination of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, preventing Iran from ever being able to obtain nuclear weapons, and the creation of an inspection system that would be robust enough to detect any Iranian cheating.
These were worthy goals, and if we were looking at a deal that achieved these goals, I would be open to supporting it. Instead, the Iranians have moved the goal post time and again, and the president and his administration simply moved along with it.
The resulting deal fails to meet the most basic criteria for removing sanctions. Instead of making the Middle East and the world safer, it makes it easier for the world's number one sponsor of terrorism to achieve nuclear weapons.
This was not a decision I came to lightly. I have spent many weeks reviewing the deal, and I believe it suffers from six fundamental flaws.
First, this deal releases more than $100 billion in sanctioned Iranian oil money almost immediately and removes economic sanctions within months. This overly generous arrangement gives Iran no incentive to comply with the agreement.
Second, the agreement allows Iran to maintain an industrial-scale uranium enrichment program. In fact, Iran will be able to keep 6,000 centrifuges, more than 5,000 of them operational, and the other 1,000 used for advanced research.
Third, this deal lacks the bulletproof inspection and verification system that is essential to its success. The agreement subcontracts out many enforcement mechanisms to the monitoring organization known as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - the same IAEA that Iran has persistently ignored for years. Furthermore, the agreement explicitly states that if the United States reimposes any nuclear sanctions Iran is relieved of all commitments. This leaves America with two choices if - or when - Iran begins to play fast and loose: Abandon the agreement altogether or sit on the sidelines and do nothing.
Fourth, the agreement is only temporary. It's 10 years at most, and many of the essential provisions last only eight years. Even if Iran fully complies with the agreement - and that's a big if - in 10 years' time it will only be weeks away from an operational nuclear weapon.
Fifth, the agreement allows Iran to further empower itself to the detriment of other countries in the region - especially Israel. Thanks to a United Nations resolution passed this summer, Iran is now eligible for upgraded offensive weaponry that will allow Iran to target Israel from greater distances.
Finally, the deal will have the effect of inciting an already volatile Middle East. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey will seek similar nuclear capabilities the minute the ink on this deal dries.
At the end of the day, a deal between two parties can only work if both sides genuinely agree on the fundamental objectives. But over the past decade, it has become abundantly clear that Iran has only one objective - to obtain nuclear weapons.
None of this should come as a surprise. Iran's history doesn't inspire much faith, going all the way back to 1979 when Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy and took 52 Americans hostage.
Iran is still holding Americans hostages today, and the regime has killed more than 500 American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan using sophisticated IEDs intended to cause maximum harm. Finally, Iranian leaders regularly call for "Death to America."
Iran's violence is not limited to the United States. The regime has wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, actively supporting terrorists like Hezbollah and propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, even while he murdered his own people. And then there is Iran's insistence on wiping Israel "off the face of the Earth."
Unfortunately, the Iranians are just as untrustworthy when it comes to nuclear weapons. They are in open violation of more than 20 international agreements to which they previously committed. They were caught trying to buy nuclear parts while these negotiations were underway and were recently caught using Hezbollah to supply arms to Assad in open violation of U.N. resolutions.
The deal's fatal flaws combined with Iran's violent history lays a heavy case against the agreement. It is noteworthy that the deal has garnered bipartisan opposition. Powerful Democrats such as Sens. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), Ben Cardin (D., Md.), and Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) are solidly in the no column.
There is a bipartisan consensus that this agreement makes the world less safe. In fact, it makes military conflict more likely, not less. It is harmful to American security interests, and it should be rejected.