The Hill, September 8, 2015

Congress must demand a better deal


The JCPOA postpones the nuclear menace, boosts Iran?s malignant activities, damages the security and interests of the pro-western countries in the Middle East, fails to bring stability to the region, and strengthens the ayatollah?s regime ? among the worst violators of human rights in the world.

2015-09-09 by Jose María Aznar and Lord David Trimble


President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have laid out only two options on Iran’s nuclear program: Support the current Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or war. This is a false choice. This is a dangerous deal, and it appears that the United States Congress is the world’s last hope for preventing its implementation.


The JCPOA postpones the nuclear menace, boosts Iran’s malignant activities, damages the security and interests of the pro-western countries in the Middle East, fails to bring stability to the region, and strengthens the ayatollah’s regime – among the worst violators of human rights in the world.


The proposed nuclear agreement with Iran is a serious security matter, not a political issue to be used to advance domestic political agendas. In this regard, it should not be a partisan issue. As the U.S. Congress holds the future of the Middle East in its hands, its Members must consider that, contrary to the Administration’s arguments, blocking the JCOPA and encouraging the U.S. government and the P5+1 to negotiate a better deal is not dangerous, but implementing the JCPOA may very well be.


First, the JCPOA, does not dismantle Iran’s nuclear program; it pauses it. Under the parameters of the JCPOA, Iran is allowed to enrich uranium, to carry out R&D on advanced centrifuges, and to keep its nuclear infrastructure intact. All of the steps Iran agreed to take in return are reversible. When the deal expires, Iran will be a nuclear threshold state, capable to make a nuclear bomb in weeks more than months, and Iran will be better prepared to defend its facilities thanks to the lifting of the arms and ballistic missiles embargo and other measures adopted in this current agreement.


The JCPOA does not include an optimal system for compliance, monitoring and verification. Though Iran has a long history of violating UN Security Council resolutions, the inspections will not be “anywhere, anytime,” and the snapback provisions for sanctions are ineffectual. That the deal ignores the past military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program only encourages Iran to cheat even more in the future.


The deal turns Iran into a major power, allows Iran to continue to sponsor terrorism and to keep violating human rights -bringing no balance in the Middle East. Iran’s proxies such as Hezbollah and Hamas will receive more support in order to carry on their terrorist actions, and Iran will be able to extend its influence across the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. Not only Israel, but also Sunni Arab states and western allies in the Gulf will be threatened by an ascendant Iran.


The JCPOA seems to rely on the naïve believe that the Iranian regime will moderate after sanctions are lifted. There is no evidence to support this. In the 90s, after the death of ayatollah Khomeini, Iran warmed its ties with Europe, and its economy improved. Tehran used the revenue to fund terrorism, an illicit nuclear program and violent repression at home. The JCPOA encourages the continuation of this cycle.


Nonetheless, there were red lines that, if followed, would have turned this JCPOA into a better deal: Stop enriching uranium, create a more robust verification and inspection process, restrict R&D research on advanced centrifuges, take back all the calls for Israel’s annihilation, close or reconvert all nuclear facilities; stop promoting terrorism around the world; stop funding Hezbollah and Hamas, and carry out several commitments regarding human rights. Most of these critical issues should be incorporated and discussed in a new deal with Iran.


In sum, the JCPOA leaves the world less safe and the future uncertain. In the days ahead, Congress must do its part to fully debate these issues and ultimately reject the deal. Even if Obama vetoes such a resolution of disapproval it will be an important part of the record, and will show Tehran that subsequent administrations will not tolerate the regime’s bad behavior. As European leaders who have faced down terror threats and worked to promote peace, we believe that a better deal must be reached. We believe that European leaders would welcome a new deal; one would offer our citizens stronger guarantees that Iran will never become a nuclear state nor have the ability to increase their funding of terrorism around the world.


Obama has stated that the JCPOA is historic and it is true. Congress is facing now an historic moment: a moment to repeat the mistakes of the past, or to work for a better future. In order to avoid the former and strengthen the latter, Democrats and Republicans in Congress should join forces and say no to this bad and dangerous agreement with Iran.


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