Coats Column: Congress Should Reject Iran Deal Senator Dan Coats
I have read through the 159 page Iran deal, considered analysis from a wide variety of leading foreign policy experts on the pros and cons of this agreement and reviewed the deal’s classified annexes. The more I read, the more my concern grows.
This deal intends to slow down Iran’s march to nuclear weapons capability, but even the White House concedes that the deal will not permanently stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions. That in and of itself is concerning. More concerning is what the negotiators conceded in order to reach an agreement with a regime that calls America its enemy, brazenly violates U.N. resolutions, sponsors terrorism, threatens Israel’s existence and is responsible for more than 1,000 American military deaths since September 11, 2001.
Rather than negotiate from a position of strength, the P5 + 1 negotiators’ desire for a deal led them to negotiate from a position of weakness. The result is an agreement with benefits too small, a duration too short and a cost too high.
Consider some of the deal’s numerous problems:
The period covered by the deal is way too short.
The most significant constraints on Iran expire in eight, ten or fifteen years, at which time Iran will have one of the most advanced nuclear infrastructures in the world, with the technical expertise, material capabilities, wealth and formal international approval to pursue nuclear arms. The deal even requires the United States to help provide nuclear technical assistance to Iran. President Obama previously admitted that once the deal expires, Iran’s breakout time to nuclear weapons “will be essentially zero.” Of course, now the president, Secretary of State and White House are trying to back away from these statements.
Inspections of Iranian sites will be woefully insufficient.
After U.S. officials pledged months ago that international monitors would be able to perform short-notice inspections anywhere and at any time, this agreement would allow inspections of suspected sites only with the permission of Iran. If Iran objects, a drawn-out, bureaucratic process of 24 or more days would take effect. This is a sharp departure from similar agreements in the past, which typically have allowed between nine and 24 hours advance notice. Turning “access anytime, anywhere” into “access within twenty-four days” makes a mockery of the original American negotiating position.
The punishment for cheating is not credible.
When our negotiators abandoned their position on gradual sanctions relief, they opted instead for “snap-back” provisions that would ostensibly punish Iran for cheating. The convoluted, byzantine scheme for such a return to sanctions would be exceedingly time-consuming and is not politically realistic. It is an illusion.
Arms embargos will be lifted.
Although non-nuclear-related sanctions were to be off the table, the negotiators caved at the last moment to accept an agreement to suspend the UN conventional arms embargo after only five years, and missile embargo after eight. This is a full capitulation, contrary to many recent statements – including by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – that such a position was unacceptable.
Terrorism will be funded.
By some estimates, the agreement would immediately give Iran upwards of $100 billion of withheld oil sales, money that could be used to fund Iran’s continued terrorism in other Middle Eastern countries like Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, a likelihood even President Obama acknowledged.
These are just a few of the many deeply concerning aspects of this deal.
Members of Congress now have the opportunity to review the pending deal, and every member must determine what this deal buys us and at what cost. We must ignore the coming public relations campaign that will trumpet this deal as a victory for diplomacy and the false premise that the deal is a choice between peace and war.
President Obama has defended his deal by challenging critics to put forth an alternative. How about exercising American leadership and enacting more vigorous sanctions to persuade the Iranian leaders to reconsider their positions or persuade the Iranian people to reconsider their leaders?
Congress should reject this bad deal.
Sen. Dan Coats is a Republican from Indiana.