Three weeks after the Iran deal, officially the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA), was announced, New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D) spoke out strongly against it, “We should go back and try to get a better deal.” For the next Democratic senate leader to oppose a deal that President Obama considers a capstone achievement is praiseworthy. It is clear that Schumer is voting his conscience, putting his country’s vital interests before his party’s political well-being.
Shortly after Sen. Schumer’s announcement, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also announced his opposition and provided a thoughtful and detailed analysis, concluding: “if Iran is to acquire a nuclear bomb, it will not have my name on it.”
Senators Schumer and Menendez looked hard at the deal and came to the inescapable conclusion: the deal is simply no good. Let’s examine why:
- The deal provides permanent concessions to Iran, while requiring only temporary abstention from nuclear development. While Sen. Schumer thought that U.S. security might be enhanced during this initial period, he felt we would be far more vulnerable in the long run.
- The inspection regime is completely toothless. The well-known “24-day period” doesn’t begin until the conclusion of a lengthy bureaucratic and diplomatic process involving numerous nations and international agencies; it could take months before the 24-day period even begins. What’s more, the recent press stories describing a secret side deal allowing Iran to “inspect” itself at the Parchin military facility make the proposed enforcement mechanism seem even more futile.
- It is naïve to believe that a sanctions regime that took decades to develop could be instantly “snapped back” in the event Iran’s doesn’t live up to the agreement.
- The deal requires no dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure; they will be permitted to keep their current centrifuges in storage. Even if it fully complies with its obligations, Iran remains on the threshold of nuclear capability.
- The JCPOA legitimizes this rogue regime as a near-nuclear nation. Iran, the largest state sponsor of terrorism, gains a red carpet to the bomb, financed with $50-$150 billion coming their way through immediate sanctions relief.
- This deal carries grave implications for Israel, our closest ally in that part of the world. The short path to nuclear status of a nation sworn to Israel’s destruction; the Mideast arms race sure to result; and the tremendous amount of money that Iran will sure use to support its terrorist proxies throughout the region makes an already dangerous place a volatile tinderbox perennially on the verge of conflagration.
- The JCPOA does nothing to curb Iran’s despicable behavior outside the nuclear arena. Rather, any incentives for reducing terrorism and human rights violations (including holding four Americans captive) are eliminated. If Iran gets such a great deal with such a poor record, all the while proclaiming “Death to America; Death to Israel,” why should they become a responsible member of the community of nations?
- The agreement represents a major, and potentially catastrophic shift in the goal of U.S. policy, from preventing nuclear proliferation to managing it.
The time has come for Coloradans to call upon our delegation in the Senate to vote to disapprove the JCPOA, and then to vote to overturn the inevitable veto. While Senator Cory Gardner has already made the right decision, Senator Michael Bennet has been strangely silent.
Sen. Bennet previously supported sanctions and knows how dangerous Iran is. “A nuclear Iran poses a significant threat to the stability and security of Israel and our allies throughout the region,” he wrote in an official statement in May 2010. The Senator is well enough informed about Iran to know the agreement is dangerous for America’s national security.
But Bennet’s current silence in wake of the deal’s announcement is worrisome. Facing a tough reelection, could he be waiting to see which way the political winds blow before making his decision? Or, could this long period of “consideration” be a farce, creating cover for a decision he’s already reached – to support the President and keep the party’s apparatus behind him?
Senator Bennet has a rare opportunity to demonstrate political courage. He should follow the lead of Senators Menendez and Schumer in opposing the Iran deal, and he owes it to the people of Colorado to tell us where he stands.