Earlier this year, I joined 366 of my colleagues in Congress to express grave concern about the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran on a possible nuclear deal. My concerns included constraining Iran’s research and development capabilities as well as nuclear infrastructure. Given Iran’s long record of deception, I also expressed concern about trusting Iran to comply with terms of an agreement.
The most important consideration of any agreement is providing for the long-term security of the U.S. and our allies in the region by preventing Iran from making progress on producing a nuclear weapon. The more I learn about the details of this deal, the more concern I have that this is a bad deal for our security and the security of our allies in the region.
Congress has 60 days to review the terms of a nuclear agreement, and I have taken the opportunity to read the text myself. Since the announcement of the agreement, there are specific provisions that raise many alarm bells.
First, the agreement falls far short of “anytime, anywhere” inspections to monitor Iran’s key nuclear sites. Short notice is vital for adequate monitoring, but the agreement allows as long as 24 days — and possibly longer — for compliance with a request for international inspectors to access a suspicious site. The terms granting weapons inspectors to access a suspected site are so bureaucratic and cumbersome that they give Iran ample time to avoid scrutiny.
Second, immediate relief from international sanctions under the terms of the agreement will allow Iran more opportunity and billions more dollars to finance international terrorism. Iran is the world’s primary state sponsor of terrorism, including groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Lifting economic sanctions is not tied to Iran’s demonstration of compliance with the deal.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a strong U.S. ally, called the agreement “a historic mistake” and said this deal will give Iran “hundreds of billions of dollars to fuel their terror and military regime.”
Once sanctions are lifted it will be very difficult to re-impose them if Iran does not comply with the agreement.
Third, this deal does not go far enough to reduce Iran’s enrichment capacity or require the dismantling of its nuclear facilities. Iran would still be able to pursue advanced research and development and keep thousands of centrifuges used to produce nuclear fuel.
Finally, outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Martin Dempsey appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee this month and said: “Under no circumstances should we relieve pressure on Iran relative to ballistic missile capabilities and arms trafficking.” But the announced deal lifts United Nations embargoes on sales of conventional arms to Iran in five years and advanced ballistic missile technology in eight years.
This is only a partial list of serious questions about whether this nuclear agreement is a bad deal.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei just gave a speech saying, “even after this deal our policy toward the arrogant U.S. will not change.” With this kind of rhetoric, how are we supposed to trust Iran to even comply with this deal?
As debate on this agreement continues over the next few weeks, I, Congress, the American people, and the administration must consider these valid concerns.
Congressman Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, represents Okanogan County as part of the 4th Congressional District. Call him at 202-225-5816.