COLUMN: A Nuclear Deal with Iran Must Face the Facts

April 10, 2015
Weekly Column and Op-Ed
By Rep. Dan Newhouse

Today, the Middle East is a dangerous place where America’s enemies seem to be expanding their reach as America’s allies watch anxiously. From the growth of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the persecution of minority Christians, to a Shia rebellion in Yemen that recently toppled a government assisting the U.S. with counterterror efforts, the region is aflame with strife and uncertainty. Yet it is within this context that President Obama is seeking a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran. Even as diplomatic efforts continue and a framework for a final deal emerges, it is clear that a nuclear deal that does not prevent Iran from producing nuclear arms would lead to more instability in the Middle East and the world.

The stakes could not be higher. If you have been following the ongoing negotiations with Iran in the news, you may be wondering whether the Obama Administration is so eager for any deal that U.S. negotiators will accept a bad deal. There are serious concerns that the Administration’s current proposed terms do not allow for a long-enough “breakout period,” which is the length of time it would take for Iran to pursue a nuclear weapon before the world could step in. Alarmingly, President Obama even admitted that after the expiration of the current proposed deal years from now, Iran would be able to build a nuclear weapon almost immediately. No nuclear agreement should allow Iran to eventually attain the capacity to develop a nuclear weapon. Not now, and not a decade from now.

Before economic sanctions on Iran are lifted in a possible deal, Congress must be convinced that the final diplomatic solution prevents Iran from attaining nuclear capability. Last month, I joined 366 colleagues in a bipartisan letter to President Obama that sent an overwhelming message of concern regarding a final deal and outstanding issues. The letter outlined the need to constrain Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and its ability to enrich uranium so that it has no pathway to a bomb. Iran has been anything but transparent in past international inspections, so verification of Iran’s compliance with a deal also remains a key concern.

Americans want the Administration to listen to their concerns about a nuclear agreement. In a recent poll, 62% of Americans say they want Congress to have a final say on a deal. There is bipartisan support to require the White House to submit any final deal to Congress for review.

The U.S. is at the negotiating table with a longtime adversary. Just last month, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, underscored Iran’s continuing enmity toward the U.S., repeating calls for, “death to America.” Iranian leaders regularly condemn and threaten to annihilate our ally, Israel. Iran is unlikely to change its tune, or its goal for regional dominance, anytime soon.

A diplomatic resolution must prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-threshold state, and any final provisions must be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism. The final deal must face the facts, and Congress must be able to vote on approval to ensure the safety and security of the U.S. and its allies.