President Obama’s stated goal at the onset of negotiations with Iran was to dismantle their nuclear infrastructure. Now that he’s failed to meet that goal, he wants Americans to believe it is either this deal or war, so we must accept it. I strongly disagree.
Those of us who wore the uniform have a deep understanding of the importance of diplomacy — for we know the horrors of war firsthand. While I applaud recent efforts to stop a nuclear Iran, the final agreement includes provisions dangerous to Americans and our allies. It should be rejected, and the administration should be directed back to the negotiating table.
Iran is the world’s most sophisticated state-sponsor of terrorism. Its overseas terror force, led by the brutal Qassem Soleimani, plotted to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. in Washington, D.C., and is responsible for the deaths of over 500 U.S. soldiers in Iraq through the transfer of explosive devices to insurgents.
It took tremendous effort over many years to crank up U.S. and international sanctions against Iran, with the most suffocating going into effect only recently. Our intelligence confirms these sanctions are working, limiting Iran’s ability to spread terror through proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah, Syria’s Assad, or Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Earlier this month, I visited Israel and stood near the border with Gaza, where Hamas launched thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians last summer. To the north, Hezbollah has stockpiled 100,000 rockets, ready to strike at any time. This is a part of daily life for millions of Israelis, who wait to hear sirens signaling they have roughly 15 seconds to get to a shelter.
Instead of dismantling Iran’s infrastructure, this agreement paves their path to a bomb in 13 years. It is allowed to keep over 4,000 centrifuges spinning, with stated aims for 190,000 in the future. Given time, the deal affords Iran unlimited nuclear infrastructure — the leaders just have to be patient.
Even if Iran cheats, it would be hard to know. Instead of the “anytime, anywhere” inspections originally sought, the deal gives Iran 24 days to delay access to certain sites, plenty of time to hide nuclear activity. What’s more, a “side deal” recently reported that allows Iran to conduct its own inspections is laughable.
Under the deal, Iran gets $100 billion in immediate sanctions relief with hundreds of billions more over the next decade to funnel to their terrorist proxies. Sanctions are lifted on Soleimani and other dangerous officials just when they are starting to have effect. All while Iranians continue to chant “Death to America” and declare Israel should be wiped off the map.
At the last minute, provisions lifting the embargo on arms and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) at five and eight years respectively were included — boosting Iran’s conventional military and giving it range enough to launch strikes on the U.S.
The administration has stated it is “unrealistic” to go back to the negotiating table. Yet, over 200 times in our history, Congress sent back treaties and international agreements to be modified before enactment, including agreements with up to 87 other participants.
Voting down this deal means sanctions stay in place and countries around the world are given a choice: do business with the U.S. or Iran. All tools we currently have to stop a nuclear Iran remain at our disposal.
This is not a partisan issue. I have been a leader and practitioner in national security issues for over 30 years and deployed to this region six times. It’s clear to me the administration’s plan rests on hope that Iran will change its ways in 13 years. While I hope that too, hope is not a strategy, and we cannot afford to bet our security on it.