There are options other than war and a bad deal in the fight to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon
by Lenny McAllister
When Mike Doyle, Keith Rothfus and others reconvene on Capitol Hill, America will face another historic moment, one that determines our role as a force for good and a protector of peace for our nation and our allies.
Right now, Iran has the resources and the know-how to produce several nuclear weapons. Setbacks originating from the Stuxnet virus 5 years ago and fairly recent assurances from the Obama Administration that Iran was not readily “breakout-capable” have not deterred Iran. Neither have strong international sanctions, as Iran has been capable of maintaining nuclear progress including covert operations at Fordow while enduring hits to its economy.
America and our allies share a primary goal that must not be overlooked in the quest to secure any deal in lieu of a good deal. We must prevent Iran from destabilizing the Middle East and beyond with its support of terrorism throughout the region and its long-standing, hate-filled opposition to Israel and America.
Any agreement that focuses on checking off one box of an agenda without securing the overall mission fails us and our friends around the world.
Feedback on this proposed agreement has united “strange bedfellows” in a manner that few issues have. Israeli leaders – fresh off of a competitive and turbulent election – have come together in opposition to this deal. Saudi leaders have denounced it, leading to concerns that nuclear proliferation in the region may emerge. Democratic leaders in the US Senate, including former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez and potential minority leader Chuck Schumer, both oppose the deal along with their Republican colleagues, leaving President Obama scrambling to find the votes to finalize the agreement.
Looking at assumptions made in the deal, it is not hard to see why it is a tough sell. Terms include a commitment from Iran to not develop nor acquire a nuclear weapon. On its face, this sounds good, but the term comes with the caveat that Iran does not need to disclose its past nuclear activities, including those that occurred at facilities discovered through Western surveillance, not Iranian open disclosure. Another condition supposedly imposes a permanent ban on Iranian development of weapons capabilities. Yet, without knowing the scope of Iranian progress to date, we are left in the dark about where Iran truly is with weaponization and, thus, left in the shadows of uncertainty. With roughly $140 billion – over 20 times the annual budget of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard – available immediately if the agreement is confirmed, more uncertainty for America and our allies in the region is not a position we should advance.
Mr. Doyle and other supporters state that the agreement will block paths to enrichment for weapons use. However, the deal does not keep the Iranians from procuring the necessary know-how to produce advanced centrifuges, thus allowing for future enrichment. This allows Iran to be able to move forward in developing technology required to eventually reach breakout status.
Supporters of the deal lean on Iran’s pledge to aid monitoring and inspection of its facilities. It was often repeated that we would have “24/7 access” to ensure compliance. Yet, we now know that access can be delayed for weeks under this deal, allowing Iran to continue to keep key components of their nuclear advancement off-radar, just as they did with Fordow. Former IAEA Deputy Director-General Olli Heinonen stated that this loophole is a “recipe for cheating … (considering so) … much of this equipment is very easy to move.”
This, coupled with technical know-how, creates a recipe for disaster.
Further, both sides of the deal are at odds over how “openness” and “access” are defined by the deal. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan have said that Iran has the right to deny access to military sites for nuclear inspection as part of the agreement. Delayed access to nuclear facilities coupled with lack of access to military sites yield a problematic duo for upholding the tenets of this proposed deal.
Even the promise of “snapback sanctions” are interpreted vastly differently by the two sides. Zarif has already stated that the flood of foreign companies into Iran after this deal is finalized will nullify the impact of any future sanctions. Countries such as China and Russia – nations that have been aggressive militarily in their own regions recently – have already lined up deals with the Iranians, including projects related to nuclear energy. “Snapback sanctions” would likely yield sagging results.
Senator Menendez noted that the deal is based on hope, not verification. Both Mr. Rothfus and he are right to oppose this deal . Mr. Doyle is wrong to support it. Iran has escalated tensions with us since 1979. They remain hostile to our nation and our allies. Congressional failure to enact further sanctions earlier and the promotion of this unsettling deal currently put us in a compromised position. We have seen this repeatedly with the Obama Administration, with foreign policy missteps with ISIS, Libya, and Yemen. Obama’s implicit belief that the only alternative to this deal is war lacks nuanced negotiating or foreign affairs foresight, as we experienced in 2011 with Iraq. Just recently, the Administration incorrectly calculated the amount of Iranian centrifuges at hundreds, not thousands. Continuing down this path would be wrong for our allies, wrong in the fight against global terrorism, and wrong for the prospect of long-term peace. Bad deals do not keep bad men from committing bad acts. We are not in a position to allow bad agreements with bad men a chance to work some good. We ended that costly lesson 70 years ago in 1945. We must not re-learn that lesson now.
Lenny McAllister, a former RNC operative under Chairman Michael Steele, is a Republican strategist and talk show host on PCNC and Newsradio 1020 KDKA.
Mr. Doyle’s position for the Iran Nuclear Deal can be found HERE
Mr. Rothfus’ position against the Iran Nuclear Deal can be found HERE