By Rep. Mimi Walters
I recently had the distinct honor and privilege of visiting Israel and the West Bank to be immersed in the region’s rich history. I traveled with several of my House colleagues to meet with top Israeli and Palestinian leaders to gain a firsthand understanding of some of the core security and diplomatic issues affecting the region.
One of the most memorable portions of the trip was hearing from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who gave a compelling argument as to why the Iran deal is dangerous to Israel, the U.S. and the rest of the world. Hearing him only strengthened my opposition to it. Here’s why:
Firstly, we simply cannot trust the Iranian regime, which has a long history of clandestine nuclear activities, repression of its own people and is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. This agreement assumes that Iran will act in good faith and follow international norms, which is simply contrary to Iran’s behavior.
Furthermore, no agreement will change the nature of the Iranian regime. In fact, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has repeatedly conveyed that Iran will not change its anti-American policy despite this agreement.
Even if we could trust Iran, this remains a very poor deal for the U.S. While the Obama administration and the U.N. Security Council previously called for Iran to cease all uranium enrichment, this deal allows Iran’s centrifuges to spin, continually enriching uranium that can be used in a nuclear weapon.
This concession is especially troubling in that it contradicts six U.N. Security Council Resolutions that call for Iran to “suspend ... all enrichment-related activities.” Further, this concession departs from long-standing U.S. policy that Iran has “no right to enrich” under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Secondly, the deal abandons the president’s promise of “snap” inspections – meaning anytime and any place. Despite Iran’s history of violating international agreements, this deal creates an unwieldy inspections process that allows a commission to decide whether an inspection is justified, which could take up to 24 days.
Moreover, the Iranian foreign minister has repeatedly stated that inspectors will be denied access to Iranian military sites, which are likely to host military aspects of a nuclear weapons program, such as ballistic missile development. In an exercise of extreme naivety, Iran will be permitted to conduct inspections at the Parchin military complex, a facility long suspected to be involved in possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program.
This is the ultimate example of the fox guarding the hen house. In negotiating with the Soviet Union, President Ronald Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.” This deal allows Iran to stall and evade, which eliminates our ability to verify. We are simply getting the short end of the stick.
Thirdly, the agreement will result in the comprehensive lifting of the economic sanctions that have effectively stifled Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon in recent years. Iran will receive up to $150 billion in frozen assets, with which it can further fund terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah and expand its destabilizing influence in the Middle East.
The deal also removes a number of sanctions that are unrelated to Iran’s nuclear program, despite the Obama administration’s repeated statements that this deal is only directed at the Iranian nuclear program. Particularly concerning is the removal of sanctions that will benefit the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is responsible for the deaths of many U.S. military personnel.
Finally, I refuse to legitimize the Iranian regime and its nuclear program. Unfortunately, this deal does just that. Furthermore, Iran has been responsible for egregious human-rights violations and is holding hostage innocent Americans. Rewarding the Iranian regime by lifting sanctions would further encourage Iran’s unacceptable behavior and give other countries the ability to follow suit.
Bottom-line, this deal presents far too many risks for the U.S. and far too many rewards for Iran. Upon the conclusion of the agreement’s 15-year timeframe, experts believe that Iran will emerge with an unencumbered path to a nuclear arsenal and the associated ballistic missile technology that will render them capable of striking U.S. soil. At that point, we will be faced with an inescapable choice: military action or a nuclear Iran.
Congress has until Sept. 17 to vote on a resolution to approve or reject the agreement. After a thorough review, I have decided to oppose the agreement as it would substantially jeopardize U.S. national security and international stability.
Rep. Mimi Walters represents California’s 45th Congressional District.