During his 1988 State of the Union address, President Reagan succinctly shared his modus operandi of diplomacy, stating: “Our approach is not to seek agreement for agreement’s sake but to settle only for agreements that truly enhance our national security and that of our allies.”
President Obama and his administration neglected to heed those words of wisdom when negotiating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear weapon program.
Although years of tough, sustained sanctions effectively crippled Iran’s economy, weakened the regime’s grip on power and ultimately brought them to negotiating table, the P5+1 powers, led by the United States, failed to exploit that leverage in Geneva. Instead, Iran was offered concession after concession, with the Obama administration seemingly intent on striking any deal at any cost.
The final accord fails to dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, and there will be no anytime/anywhere inspections. Iran’s global terror network will not only be allowed to continue to exist, but thrive, following the release of tens of billions of dollars in previously embargoed funds.
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To better understand the ramifications of the deal and its likelihood of failure, it is critical to understand the behavior of a long-time adversary we are now entrusting to keep its word.
Since 1979, Iran has violated or is in current violation of dozens of international agreements. The Iranian regime has also earned a notorious reputation for gross human rights violations, including its horrific public executions of gay Iranians, political dissidents, and non-violent drug users. Iran has imprisoned three Americans – Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmat, and Jason Rezaian – on outrageously fabricated accusations of espionage. A fourth America, Robert Levinson, disappeared in Iran eight years ago and is believed to be the longest-held hostage in U.S. history.
It is no surprise that the same regime that has threatened to “wipe Israel off the map” and regularly incites chants of “death to America” has a nine-figure line item in its budget to support terrorist groups; the payments to Hezbollah alone are estimated to be as much as $200 million annually.
Even if we were to take a huge leap of faith and assume Iran will act in accordance with the agreement, the fact is the restrictions placed on its nuclear program will phase out entirely after ten years. This gives Iran virtually zero breakout time to develop a nuclear weapon.
President Obama now claims that this was the best deal that could have been negotiated. That is patently false. An acceptable deal would have degraded and ultimately prevented Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon for the foreseeable future. This deal – a bad one – accepts the inevitability of a nuclear Iran and merely seeks to delay it.
We should have walked away, imposed additional economic sanctions, and forced Iran back to the negotiating table to strike an agreement that would have actually enhanced the security of the U.S. and the rest of the world.
The Middle East is already engulfed in a blaze of war, chaos, and extremism. We cannot afford a deal that will also spark the beginning of a regional nuclear arms race. We should refuse to settle for a deal that fails to secure the release of American hostages and paves Iran’s path toward realizing its nuclear weapon ambitions. This is why I will be voting to disapprove the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
The author is a U.S. Senator from North Carolina.