I have serious concerns with the tentative deal that the Obama administration has reached with Iran over its nuclear program. After more than six years in office, President Obama has yet to articulate a coherent foreign policy – particularly in the Middle East. Like many presidents halfway through their final term, Mr. Obama is probably thinking about what his legacy will be, and is in search of accomplishments.
Trusting that Iran has suddenly had a change of heart in its decades-long quest to obtain a nuclear weapon is naïve at best. Equally disturbing is why the Obama administration seems to be dealing from a position of weakness in these negotiations when it is apparent to many that the economic sanctions much of the West has placed on Iran have been effective.
The Obama administration, along with the four other permanent members of the UN Security Council recently reached an agreement on the framework of a potential deal with Iran that would reduce the economic sanctions that America, and much of the West, have placed on Iran in exchange for providing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.
There are many reasons to be deeply concerned about this tentative deal, and the next three months will be critical for having a robust debate about whether or not it’s in America’s best interest to enter into a deal with the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. If the sanctions are lifted and Iran becomes awash in cash from its oil, its political leadership will be emboldened, and its opportunity to fund more terror will be strengthened. America — and the rest of the free world that looks to America for leadership — would be in a position of weakness: hoping that the inspectors don’t miss anything.
Here are some of my concerns with such a deal.
The deal could ignite a regional nuclear arms race.
The framework agreement will allow Iran to continue enriching uranium. While it would be left to IAEA inspectors to ensure Iran doesn’t obtain weapons grade enrichment, we can’t be sure there aren’t more secret facilities that we don’t know about — Iran has a history of being untruthful. In an unstable part of the world, providing the regional power and a historically bad actor, the legitimacy to continue enriching uranium could destabilize the Gulf region and compel neighbors and rivals, like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and others, to pursue a nuclear weapon of their own. A nuclear arms race in the Middle East would make the world a much more dangerous place.
Iran is the largest state sponsor of terror in the world.
In 2012, President Obama’s State Department issued its annual report on global terrorism. In the report, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism Daniel Benjamin wrote that a recent plot to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington “underscored anew Iran’s interest in using international terrorism – including in the United States — to further its foreign policy goals.”
The report also detailed Iran’s collaboration with Hamas and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Let’s also not forget that it was Iran supplying terrorists and insurgents in Iraq with the deadliest type of roadside bombs that killed and wounded countless American soldiers.
History shows we can’t trust Iran
Called the “central bank” of terrorism by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Iran openly funds terrorist activities, and calls for the deaths of Jews and Americans. Yet, now they profess that they come in peace. Iran has also a habit of actively acquiring the necessary parts to make a nuclear bomb and then denying it, and building covert nuclear facilities in mountains and underground to avoid being found out — and denying this as well.
There are many more reasons to be skeptical about this deal. Our closest ally in the region, Israel, believes it will provide Iran a “legitimate” pathway to the bomb. Our adversary, Russia, believes it’s a good deal, and Iran’s negotiators received a hero’s welcome upon returning home from Switzerland.
A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center concluded that 62 percent of Americans want Congress to have the final say on a deal brokered between the White House and Iran. Because of this, I’m encouraged by Senator Bob Corker’s work on bipartisan legislation that would allow Congress to prevent the administration from lifting sanctions if it disapproves of any final deal it makes with Iran. Additionally, Speaker John Boehner has spoken out strongly against this deal and remains adamant that Congress remain active in scrutinizing any final agreement. America’s security and global security will be jeopardized if President Obama gets this wrong – we must ensure he doesn’t.