Thursday, July 2, 2015
By: Matthew Brooks, RJC Executive Director
A cogent argument has been made that President Obama wants to transform the U.S. relationship with Iran, legitimizing and empowering Iran as a regional leader so that the U.S. can step back from an active role in the Middle East.
An important step in that process is achieving a nuclear agreement between Iran and the West. It is clear that despite his promises early on, the President is willing to accept a deal that “manages” Iran’s nuclear program, but does not eliminate it. The administration argued strenuously for many months that no options were off the table and that the U.S. would walk away from an agreement that didn’t meet certain criteria, but in fact many options have been effectively taken off the table and all the key criteria for a workable deal to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons have been disregarded.
Among those key criteria that have been widely accepted in the pro-Israel community are:
• There must be “any time, anywhere” inspection of all Iranian sites for verification of Iranian compliance with the agreement.
• Iran must reveal all past nuclear research and development, to establish an accurate accounting of Iran’s nuclear program as the baseline for measuring future activity.
• Sanctions relief must be gradual and based on Iran’s verified compliance with the agreement over time. If Iran cheats on the agreement, there must be clearly defined and implementable consequences.
• The agreement should prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons for the long term -- decades -- not just for a few years.
• Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, including centrifuges and other equipment, must be completely dismantled and Iran’s uranium stockpile must be relinquished.
There are serious concerns that the agreement President Obama is intent on reaching with Iran will not meet any of those criteria. Iran has repeatedly rejected giving nuclear inspectors unimpeded access to military sites. It has been reported that the U.S. would accept an agreement without full disclosure of Iran’s past nuclear work and that sanctions relief would, as the Iranians have demanded, go into effect immediately rather than over time. At the time of the “framework” agreement last April, the U.S. already stipulated to limiting the final agreement to ten years’ duration and to allowing Iran to continue enriching uranium.
Members of Congress had the requirements for a “good deal” with Iran in mind when they overwhelmingly passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which President Obama signed in May. That legislation gives Congress the power to review an agreement with Iran and potentially reject the deal by passing a resolution of disapproval.
Because the President would likely veto a Senate resolution disapproving of the deal, 67 Senate votes would be needed to stop the deal from going through. Members of the Senate will face significant pressure from the White House to let the deal stand. The RJC and others in the pro-Israel community will continue to educate the public on this issue and will urge members of the Senate to pass a veto-proof resolution of disapproval if President Obama’s Iran deal does not meet the criteria necessary to prevent a nuclear Iran.
This article appeared in the May-June issue of the RJC Bulletin.