By Sen. John Thune
A majority of the American people oppose the president’s nuclear deal with Iran. They have good reason to be concerned, and they deserve to have their voices heard.
Back in the spring, Congress tried to make sure that the American people, through their representatives in Congress, would have a say in any deal with Iran, and Senate Democrats joined Senate Republicans to support legislation guaranteeing an up-or-down vote on any agreement. Unfortunately, Democrats changed their minds about giving the American people a chance to be heard and succumbed to pressure from their party by blocking an up-or-down vote on the president’s deal.
I was deeply disappointed by the Democrats’ decision. The deeply flawed deal President Obama announced this summer not only fails to end Iran’s nuclear program – which would have been a key step in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon – it actually allows Iran to increase its nuclear expertise and enrichment infrastructure.
Under this agreement, Iran is allowed to build more advanced centrifuges capable of producing a significant amount of nuclear material in a very short amount of time. While the deal forbids Iran from enriching weapons-grade uranium, that prohibition is only as good as Iran’s word given that Iran will be allowed to maintain and grow its nuclear infrastructure.
Another key part of a strong deal would have been “anytime, anywhere” inspections, especially given Iran’s history of violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by building enrichment facilities in secret. Unfortunately, under the terms of the Obama-negotiated agreement, “anytime, anywhere” inspections are limited to a small number of known nuclear sites. If inspectors believe that Iran is conducting activity at other locations, they have to apply for permission to visit these sites, a process that could take more than three weeks and give Iran plenty of time to hide evidence of illicit activities.
On top of all this, the agreement will greatly increase Iran’s ability to fund terror. Iran is already the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and the primary supporter of Hezbollah and Hamas. Now, under this agreement, sanctions will be lifted and Iran’s assets will be unfrozen, giving Iran access to tens of billions of dollars to spend on terrorism.
In addition to these problems, the Obama administration recently confirmed that the International Atomic Energy Agency — the agency in charge of nuclear inspections — has made secret side deals with Iran, but the details of those deals remain undisclosed.
During negotiations over this agreement, President Obama and his administration emphasized that no deal was better than a bad deal. Unfortunately they didn’t stick to that policy.
The deal the administration reached this summer will fuel instability in the Middle East and around the globe. I will continue to work with my colleagues to do what we can to protect our nation and our allies from the effects of this agreement.