The Senate must act to strengthen Iran sanctions

Shane Osborn Senate Candidate, Nebraska
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Peace through strength used to be a guiding principle of our foreign policy and national defense. Despite that, a new era of weakness through a lack of leadership on foreign policy is being ushered in, specifically when addressing the threat of Iran.

I had deep reservations about the agreement reached in Geneva last November between Iran, the United States, and the P5-plus-1 Group on Iran’s nuclear program, and my concerns have not been assuaged by the Obama administration. While publicly stating the United States will hold other nations accountable for following the current sanctions against Tehran, Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s nuclear negotiator, informed Iranian media that there is a secret 30-page non-deal. This side agreement raises more questions about the negotiation process and how much flexibility the Obama administration is willing to allow the Iranians.

While the specifics of the agreement are beginning to be made public, a key requirement appears to be missing. That requirement is for Iran to dismantle, not slow, its nuclear enrichment capacity. The United States cannot sit back and watch Iran continue to develop nuclear capabilities, accepting it as business as usual.

Easing the current sanctions in place has thrown Tehran an economic lifeline when we should have been tightening the noose to starve their nuclear program. Iran’s currency, the Rial, is rising against the dollar. Iranian oil exports are spiking. The International Monetary Fund predicts Iran’s economy will turn from negative to positive growth while its inflation rate will steadily decline. And as the mullah’s economic situation improves, our ability to solve this crisis through diplomacy will disappear.

We cannot sit back and watch the international sanctions regime unravel as Iran builds advanced uranium centrifuges, launches long-range missiles, and threatens to deploy warships to U.S. waters. We should be sending a clear signal to companies around the world that sanctions are coming back in spades if Iran fails to dismantle its illicit nuclear infrastructure.

The United States is further alienating our remaining allies in the region and failing to adequately stand with Israel. I must side with Israel’s assessment of the situation. Iran does not seek to acquire nuclear capacity for peaceful means. They seek to further destabilize the region and the world by developing a nuclear weapon.

The continued proliferation of nuclear weapons poses a significant threat to the Middle East and the rest of the world. It has become clear that our current policies are not working. Threatening the return of tough sanctions would allow the United States to clearly define Tehran’s options. The penalties for violating the agreement will be severe.

I urge the United State Senate to increase sanctions against Iran. Senate Majority Leader Reid must bring the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 before the full Senate for a vote.

This is no time for playing politics. We must focus on passing legislation to further protect our allies and stop the Iranian government’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. Now is the time to stand with our allies, not with the Iranian regime.

Osborn is former Nebraska State Treasurer and served in the U.S. Navy.  He is a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.