Jul 28, 2015
Congressmen Scott Garrett
After 20 months of negotiations, this week President Obama announced a nuclear arms deal that will give Iran sanctions relief and a path to obtaining a nuclear weapon.
The Iranian regime has done nothing to prove that it has earned the trust or respect of the international community and should not be rewarded with sanctions relief. This deal will only further destabilize an increasingly volatile region.
President Obama asks for this deal to be judged on its original goal and its merits. But it should be judged on the ability to keep weapons out of the hands of a regime that is both a sponsor of terrorism and an enemy of the United States and its allies.
By that standard, it fails horribly.
One of the most imperative aspects of a deal is the ability to verify that Iran is fulfilling its end of the agreement. The president may claim that this deal “is not based on trust; it is built on verification,” but this is not reflected in the actual provisions of the deal. The president himself has stated that a deal must allow for inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) anytime, anywhere. Yet this deal fails to live up to the president’s own standards. Instead it allows Iran to object to inspections and dispute the inspections in front of a resolution panel— a process that can take up to 24 days. This is hardly the spontaneous inspection that will ensure compliance.
Under this deal, Iran is not required to fully dismantle existing bomb making technology. Rather, Iran is allowed to continue its enrichment capabilities. But that becomes almost irrelevant when you consider that in ten short years the United States and its allies will have little ability to ensure that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons. After a decade, the limits on Iran’s nuclear activities will begin to sunset.
In recent years Iran has involved itself in both regional and sectarian conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. By lifting the sanctions, billions of dollars in frozen assets will be freed up, and Iran will be rewarded for its bad behavior.
Due to provisions included in the eleventh hour of negotiations, this deal lifts the arms embargo after just five years, and after eight years the restrictions on ballistic missile transfer will be lifted. This will no doubt benefit Russia, who stands to make considerable money by providing missile technology to Iran. The reality for the US and its allies is that lifting this embargo will allow Iran to further support bad actors and terrorism in the region.
President Obama claims that if Iran violates the deal the sanctions will snap back into place. This just isn’t reality. Snapping back the sanctions—as the president claims he will do—will take an act of the same international body that worked on the agreement. It will be out of the hands of this or any other White House.
So where are we now?
Unfortunately, due to a bill that passed in May without my support, Congress’ ability to stop this deal from being implemented is greatly diminished. Instead of requiring a majority of Congress to approve the treaty, the so-called Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 turns the Constitution on its head and requires Congress to block a treaty. Knowing this, President Obama has already issued a veto threat if Congress tries to block this deal.
Even if Iran abides by all of the provisions in this deal, in 15 years they will be able to proliferate weapons grade nuclear materials and possess ballistic missiles. By implementing this agreement, we will not make the world a safer place; we will essentially start a countdown until this terrorist regime has nuclear weapons.
This is not a political issue; this is an issue of national security for the United States and for our allies around the world. Over the span of the negotiations, 367 Members of Congress from both parties have called upon the president expressing the standards that a final deal must achieve. Yet this deal fails to achieve these standards.
The administration consistently said that a bad deal is worse than no deal, yet it delivered this terrible agreement to the American people. As I’ve said since the beginning of these negotiations, any agreement that allows Iran to acquire, build, or proliferate nuclear weapons—now or in the future—is a threat to the United States and its allies.