07.31.15

Weekly Column: No Deal is Better Than a Bad Deal

Several weeks ago, President Obama submitted part of the nuclear agreement with Iran to Congress for review. The U.S. negotiators, including Secretary of State John Kerry, have not even seen the details of the side agreements reached between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran. I have been closely examining the proposal and asking important questions regarding specific details. Unfortunately, the more I learn about the President's agreement, the more concerned I am about the risks it poses to our long-term national security.

Earlier this year, President Obama claimed that no deal with Iran regarding their nuclear program would be better than a bad deal, and I couldn’t agree more. Yet from what we know so far, it appears to be a very bad deal that not only fails to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, it emboldens them through tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief, a phased out lifting of United Nations arms and missile embargoes and allows them to test more advanced centrifuges after 10 years.

I recently had an opportunity to question administration officials about the deal during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. During that hearing, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter confirmed to me that under this deal, he could not rule out Iran acquiring an intercontinental ballistic missile in ten years. This means that Iran would have the capability of producing a weapon that could reach U.S. soil in a decade. These troubling comments come after General Paul Selva, the President’s nominee to be Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told me during a separate hearing that Iran remains the leading state sponsor of terrorism, and sanctions relief agreed to in the nuclear deal could be used by Iran to continue sponsoring terrorism.

I’m concerned that this deal puts too much trust in Iran – a country that has violated more than 20 international agreements in the past, continues to be the largest state sponsor of terrorism and currently has imprisoned four U.S. citizens.

Congress is currently reviewing the deal and will likely vote on a resolution of disapproval in mid-September. I’ve said all along that any deal with Iran must prevent Iran from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon, and it appears the President's proposed deal fails to accomplish that goal. In essence, this agreement not only releases tens of billions of dollars in resources to Iran for use in terror activities, it also authorizes the relaxation of the arms embargo and the limitations on Iran’s ability to get an intercontinental ballistic missile while legally allowing them access to advance nuclear capabilities at the end of a ten year period. That is the end result, even if they do not cheat in the meantime.

 

A nuclear Iran will increase the level of unrest in an already-unstable Middle East, threaten many of our allies and put U.S. lives at risk. The president was correct when he said that “no deal is better than a bad deal” with Iran. It’s time for him to realize what is in front of him.