“This deal is not built on trust. It is built on verification.” — President Barack Obama
This is how the president characterized and defended his recent agreement with Iran to delay the country’s nuclear development program. The deal today looks much different than the president’s originally stated mission to outright prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Unfortunately this latest agreement is nothing more than a speed bump in Iran’s long march toward an atomic bomb.
President Obama’s self-styled landmark deal looks more like the shortsighted product of a legacy-minded, second term president whose time in office is ticking away. The result is a watered down deal that simply delays a pathway to a nuclear Iran, rather than outright preventing it. In exchange for Iran’s cooperation, the United States has vowed to lift sanctions that have been crippling Iran’s economy for years.
One report from economists at Bank of America predicted Iran’s economy would be nearly twice its current size without sanctions. Needless to say, sanctions have been our most significant bargaining chip short of military action, and we are trading it in to merely delay Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Lifting long-held sanctions will free up large amounts of money that may go to further destabilizing the region. Some figures suggest that Iran will gain access to up to $150 billion – a considerable portion of their overall economy.
Economic sanctions have brought Iran to the negotiating table. But once sanctions are lifted, Iran’s economic windfall immediately strengthens their ability to walk away from the agreement and insulates them from future nuclear proliferation deals. We cannot re-impose sanctions if the money is already spent.
For a deal allegedly not built on trust, we are putting a great deal of faith in the Iranian government. Iran remains on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. Even with the agreement in place, it’s hard to believe that none of this cash windfall will be funneled toward weapons or missiles pointed at our allies in the region.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose country now must contend with a stronger and bolder Iran, said the deal gives Iran “hundreds of billions of dollars to fuel their terror and military regime.” Iran’s rhetoric toward Israel has not subsided and it’s hard to believe their support of terrorist proxies such as Hamas or Hezbollah will either.
Despite Iran’s troubling past of violating international agreements, the deal is surprisingly toothless. The ‘verification’ aspect of the agreement can take as long as 24 days, as inspectors must work through a bureaucratic appeals process that includes Russia and China. I doubt these countries have a pressing interest to slow down Iran’s nuclear program.
A strong deal would include 24/7 inspections by our own people at any time and at any place. Anything short of that puts too much trust in a nation that has done little to deserve it.
Congress now has 60 days to review this agreement, and I share the concerns of many Americans who believe the deal does not go far enough to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of an aggressive and unpredictable state. Over the next month, I look forward to hearing your thoughts about the Iran deal and how we can keep our country secure for the next generation.