National Review | September 11, 2015
We are often asked, based on what we know as members of Congress, what keeps us awake at night. The simple answer is a nuclear Iran.
Last month we traveled to Israel with 34 of our fellow members of Congress. There we listened to people ranging from the political Left to the political Right, and from ordinary citizens to the most senior decision-makers. In all these conversations, we were left with one lasting impression: The people who know Iran the best distrust its intentions in this proposed nuclear deal the most. We must do more to counter the threat that an empowered and emboldened Iran poses to the Middle East — and to us — as a result of this deal.
The United States and Israel have made real progress in defending against Iranian-backed terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Our delegation visited a tangible result of that progress — an Iron Dome missile-defense battery. This remarkable technology is the result of a joint effort between Israel and America, and it saved countless innocent lives during last summer’s 50-day war. Hamas indiscriminately launched more than 4,000 rockets — mostly supplied by Iran — into Israel in the hope of striking civilian targets. Yet during the war, Iron Dome had a 90 percent effectiveness rate intercepting rockets on a trajectory that would do damage.
While Israelis have remained amazingly resilient in the face of renewed attacks from Hamas and other jihadist groups, our delegation found an underlying anxiety. Iran remains the largest state sponsor of terror in the world. And yet, as the White House openly admits, the nuclear deal proposed by the Obama administration would do nothing to change Iran’s antagonistic behavior toward Israel or the United States. Not only has the administration failed to address the non-nuclear aspects of this deal, it has given up on holding Iran accountable for its past nuclear activity. The Obama administration now acknowledges that there are “secret” agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency that would allegedly grant Iran more authority to police one of its nuclear sites and that have not been shared with Congress and the American people.
But it gets worse. We should have demanded an end to Iranian terror. We didn’t, and therefore the chances of conflict between Iran and our Middle East allies will increase. If this deal is implemented, Iran will get as much as $150 billion in sanctions relief in the next 12 months. The White House now acknowledges that a portion of this huge windfall will fund the Iranian terror machine — which means we will be helping to fund future terrorist attacks.
Only last month, Iran’s lead negotiator, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, told Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, that the nuclear deal would give Iran even more resources to help them both fight Israel. The deal, if implemented, will also make Iran a more formidable foe to the United States. The arms embargo against Iran will be lifted in five years, and the ballistic-missile ban will be lifted in eight. An advanced Iranian missile with a nuclear payload can easily reach Europe and is certainly capable of reaching the U.S.
This deal also grants Iran a pathway to an industrial-size nuclear program in a little more than a decade. All Iran needs to do is to wait for the deal to sunset. And if Iran chooses not to wait (it has a troublesome track record of ignoring international agreements), the deal prohibits inspectors from seeing what they need to see when they need to see it. A 24-day waiting period to inspect suspected sites and a recent revelation that Iran will play a huge role in its own nuclear inspections are among the more outrageous aspects of this deal. Iran has done nothing to deserve such trust.
The American people have the right to the truth, and the Obama administration has the responsibility to tell us the truth. As a matter of principle, global security agreements must be verifiable, enforceable, and accountable. The Iran agreement fails on all three counts. Some may hope that it will bring America some Iranian goodwill. Some might also claim we have the added benefit of physical distance to defend ourselves in the short term from a richer, strengthened, and nuclear-armed Iran. But that raises a simple question: Is the world a safer place when Iran has nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles? By the time we learn that answer, it will already be too late.
In the meantime, the threat of war from the empowered regime in Tehran and its terrorist proxies will be no less worrisome. The stakes have never been higher, because the dangers have never been greater. The consequences? Armed with nuclear weapons and made rich by sanctions relief, Iran’s rulers will increase their attempts to turn “death to Israel” and “death to America” from mere chants into a terrible reality.