U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine: Iran nuclear deal is a failure
Last month, I outlined the five basic requirements underpinning a good deal with Iran. A good deal would prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability and deter further proliferation across the Middle East. Unfortunately, the United States and its negotiating partners squandered substantial leverage and produced an absolute failure. The deal agreed to by the Obama administration fails on all counts:
1. Conditional and staged sanctions relief: Congressional sanctions put Iran’s economy on its back. The Obama administration’s 2013 interim deal allowed Iran to rise to its knees. This final deal puts Iran back on its economic feet. Rather than progressively lifting sanctions based on good behavior, the deal removes all sanctions — United Nations, European Union, and American — on Day 1 of implementation (as early as five months from now). Iran will get a massive signing bonus — at least $150 billion — to funnel into global terrorism, military operations to destabilize the Middle East, and weapons development.
This concession will completely shred the most effective sanctions regime ever developed. The so-called “snapback” sanctions provision — re-imposing sanctions when Iran cheats — only applies to ineffective U.N. sanctions, ignoring the much stronger U.S. and EU sanctions. In reality, it’s obvious that political pressure to “preserve the deal” will make the possibility of “snapback” a total fiction. The agreement actually states that any re-imposition of sanctions will be taken by Iran as “grounds to cease performing its commitments.”
Four Americans remain imprisoned in Iran, yet the deal gives sanctions relief to Iranian terrorists such as General Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani leads Iran’s Quds Force — a Special Forces outfit responsible for killing at least 500 American service members in Iraq. As a combat veteran of Iraq, I see relieving sanctions on Soleimani and his ilk as insulting and inexcusable.
2. Unlimited duration: Instead of lasting indefinitely, the actual text states that the agreement terminates in 10 years. In not more than one decade, radical Islam will finally have an industrial-scale nuclear capability. As President Obama admitted in April, in “year 13, 14, 15” Iran’s breakout time to build a nuclear weapon will shrink “almost down to zero.” Iran is the world’s No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism. Just last week, Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, joined his countrymen shouting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” in the streets of Tehran. Does anyone seriously expect the Iranian regime to fundamentally change in 10 years? The United States should not let Iran escape nuclear constraints until genuine, transformational political change occurs in Tehran.
3. Full disclosure of Iran’s past nuclear weapons research and development: The deal does require Iran to come clean to the International Atomic Energy Agency by Oct. 15. However, under conditions set by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, and accepted by the United States, full disclosure is impossible. Khamenei has ruled out IAEA interviews of Iran’s nuclear scientists and engineers and prohibited visits to military sites.
Putting aside Iran’s past nuclear work at undeclared sites, the deal gives Iran immediate permission to complete research and development on advanced centrifuges and grants manufacturing rights after eight years. Amazingly, the deal actually obligates the United States to provide Iran with technical assistance to improve its allegedly “peaceful” nuclear program. Analysts contend these provisions actually push Iran to faster development of advanced centrifuges.
4. Dismantlement of excess nuclear infrastructure: The deal reduces the number of centrifuges allowed at the Natanz and Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plants and the amount of enriched uranium Iran can possess. What happens to the excess capacity? Rather than destroy excess centrifuges, Iran will store them on-site at Natanz. Iran must also redesign its Arak plutonium reactor into a supposedly safer configuration. Iran keeps everything and destroys nothing. Iran has no practical need for multiple enrichment facilities. The deal should have shut Fordow forever. Rather than redesign Arak, the deal should have permanently closed off the plutonium pathway.
5. Anytime, anywhere inspections: The deal’s inspection regime is a farce. Iran has a record of nuclear duplicity that’s even worse than North Korea’s. Verifying Iranian compliance requires IAEA inspectors to have no-notice access to any suspected nuclear facility — declared or undeclared, military or civilian. The deal allows Iran to ignore the IAEA inspection requests for two weeks before responding. A multi-nation Joint Commission can take another 10 days to render a final decision. Under the deal, it could be 24 days before IAEA inspectors get into any suspected clandestine facility.
Clearly, the deal falls far short of meeting even the most basic, common-sense requirements. It lifts sanctions on Day 1 and puts Tehran firmly on the path toward a nuclear weapons capability in 10 years. It incentivizes every Sunni Muslim Arab country in the Middle East to acquire nuclear weapons to deter Iran. It puts Israel right in Iran’s crosshairs.
Congress is the West’s last line of defense. We will vote to disapprove President Obama’s deal in 60 days. Congress will have to override a Presidential veto to prevent a nuclear Iran and an avalanche of nuclear proliferation across the world’s most unstable region. Failure to reject Obama’s deal will almost certainly lead to catastrophe.
Some say, what is the alternative? That’s simple — keep the sanctions in place. Do not give Iran $150 billion to fund terrorism and do not pave their pathway to the bomb.