Rounds Alarmed by Obama’s DoD Nominee’s Response to Nuclear Deal with Iran

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today at a hearing questioned General Paul Selva, Pres. Obama’s nominee to be Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, regarding the Iran nuclear agreement announced early this morning. Just hours after the agreement was announced, Selva confirmed that Iran is still the leading sponsor of terror and that sanctions relief could be used by the Iranians to sponsor terrorism if they choose to do so.

Transcript of the Exchange:

Rounds: “You identified as one of those four existential threats, the country of Iran. In your view, is Iran still the leading state sponsor of terror?”

Selva: “Yes, sir, they are.”

Rounds: “With the proposed nuclear [agreement], which was announced this morning, if Iran is provided economic sanctions relief, do you believe Tehran would use some of these funds to enhance its nuclear capabilities and support for terrorist organizations?”

Selva: “Senator I haven’t yet had the opportunity to study the entire agreement, but on its face from what I’ve heard from the press, the immediate lifting of sanctions, or the sequential lifting of sanctions will give Iran the access to more economic assets with which to sponsor terrorism should they choose to do so. I think we need to be alert to that possibility…”

Video of the exchange is available HERE

In response, Rounds issued the following statement:

“Now that an agreement has been reached, Congress will carefully consider the deal based on its merits,” said Rounds. “I’ve said all along that anything short of stopping the Iranians from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon is unacceptable. Based on what we know so far, it appears this deal not only fails to meet this essential goal, it emboldens the Iranians, who will receive $150 billion in sanctions relief, a phased out lifting of a UN arms embargo and be allowed to test more advanced centrifuges over 10 years. Today’s testimony from General Selva confirms that under this deal, Iran will have the ability to continue funding terrorism, thereby increasing terrorist activity throughout the world.”

Top Preliminary Areas of Concern regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA):

  • As the world’s leading country of state-sponsored terrorism, if Iran receives the sanctions relief outlined in this agreement, Iran will be empowered to increase funding for terrorist organizations.
  • According to President Obama, under this agreement, all UN arms embargo provisions against Iran will be lifted permanently in five years, including the export of nuclear-and-missile-related goods as well as a ban against Iran participating in ballistic missile development in eight years. This will occur after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verifies Iran’s nuclear compliance with the agreement.
  • A robust inspection regime requires an anytime, anywhere policy. This deal falls short of that requirement. Instead, if the IAEA requests access to an undeclared location under the JCPOA agreement, Iran can delay access to the facility for two weeks or longer with the outlined multi-step process for undeclared locations. This timeframe may provide ample opportunity to conceal covert activity.
  • Under the preamble of the JCPOA agreement, the United States and other countries in the agreement recognize and legitimize Iran’s right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. This is extremely concerning given their untrustworthy track record and history of covert nuclear activity.
  • The JCPOA allows Iran to research and develop more advanced centrifuges, as well as retain the possession of all nuclear-related equipment. In short, the JCPOA may simply delay the inevitable: it places Iran as a threshold nuclear state.