President Obama, never one to be humble, said recently that the nuclear non-proliferation agreement he has entered into with Iran “is not just the best choice among alternatives – this is the strongest nonproliferation agreement ever negotiated.” Ummm, no. Don’t be fooled, there are major problems with the agreement.
Understand that Iran came to the negotiating table because current sanctions are crippling them. Instead of pressing our advantage and threatening even stronger sanctions, we found ourselves in a rush to make a deal to seal Obama’s foreign policy legacy.
The biggest problems with the agreement are related to verification of Iran’s compliance.
Inspections of Iranian nuclear labs and military sites are not “anywhere, anytime.” Iran can delay inspections by 24 days. While inspectors could still determine if radioactive isotopes were present at the site after 24 days, they would be unable to detect if the site was used to build or develop the tools and parts of a bomb that do not emit radioactivity.
Further, a majority of the eight-member Joint Commission must vote to allow inspections. The Joint Commission is made up of representatives from Russia, China, the U.S., and three European Union representatives. The U.S. would likely have to get all three EU representatives to agree to inspections, which they might not be likely to do if it jeopardizes lucrative economic deals with Iran that are already in the process of being negotiated.
The agreement also doesn’t address Iran’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles, and in eight years it lifts the ban on Iran importing ballistic weaponry so even if Iran fails to develop an ICBM, the door is open for Iran to purchase them from Russia or China. ICBM capability would give Iran the power to strike at “the Great Satan,” which is what the U.S. is known as in Iran.
Finally, the agreement doesn’t address Iran’s role as the leading state sponsor of terrorism.
The U.S. State Department has labeled Iran as one of only three nations in the world who are “state sponsors of terrorism.” Lifting the current sanctions would provide Iran with tens of billions of dollars to spread trouble in the Middle East and perhaps worldwide.
Let’s be clear on one point: The agreement will not stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
The administration appears to be negotiating from the position that the best we can achieve is to delay Iran getting a nuclear weapon. We’re told that if the agreement is not approved, Iran’s breakout time to a nuclear weapon would be just a few months. Even with the agreement in place, at best we’re kicking the can down the road ten years when a financially and militarily stronger Iran will be as close or closer to developing nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them as it is today. Ten years from now we may be left with no effective means of preventing it.
Obama tells us that “Many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.” That’s true, but very few in congress voted against the Iraq war – even Hillary voted in favor. Maybe we’ve learned something since the Iraq war and now understand that a bad agreement is more likely to result in a war than strengthening the current sanctions against Iran. Remember the problems verifying that Iraq didn’t have weapons of mass destruction before the war? There doesn’t appear to be much in the Iran agreement that would prevent the same situations from occurring again.
Obama asks us to trust him that there is no better deal available, which leaves many wondering if that’s only true for Iran. After all, the deal frees up billions of dollars for Iran to support terrorist groups, at best only delays Iran’s nuclear program, allows Iran to delay any inspections so as to make compliance virtually unverifiable, and threatens ‘snapback’ sanctions that are all but certain not to occur in the unlikely event that we’re able to verify that Iran breaks the terms of the agreement. Most Americans know this is a bad deal; a recent Monmouth University poll revealed that by almost 3 to 1; Americans believe that Tehran got the better end of the deal.
Despite Obama’s protestations, Congress can act to fix the deal. Congress can and should pass a resolution of disapproval or separate legislation that requires the president and Secretary of State John Kerry to renegotiate the deal. In what might be a first for this paper, we support Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-New York) call to renegotiate the agreement to strengthen sanctions and “pursue the hard-trodden path of diplomacy once more, difficult as it may be.”