Iran deal deserves up-or-down vote

Their View

Shelley Moore Capito - U.S. Senator

“Even after this deal, our policy toward the arrogant U.S. will not change.” This statement by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei should invoke serious concern about entering into a nuclear agreement with the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.

For months, I have carefully considered Iran’s actions along with the provisions of the president’s nuclear deal. I asked, ‘Will this agreement eliminate Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon? Will it improve the security situation in the Middle East? Will it make America safer?’ Sadly, the answer across the board is no.

The windfall of cash that will flow to Iran once sanctions are lifted will only increase its ability to prop up the Syrian regime, finance Hezbollah and threaten American allies like Israel, who Khamenei recently threatened would not exist in 25 years.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice agrees that ‘we should expect that some portion of that money would go to the Iranian military and could potentially be used for the kinds of bad behavior that we have seen in the region up until now.’

The president and the Secretary of State have said that sanctions will snap back if Iran violates this agreement, but history shows it is not that simple.

It took more than a decade for the United States, working with our European allies, to construct the sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table. This type of effective sanctions regime cannot be brought back overnight. Without the credible threat of effective sanctions, the United States will be left with little leverage to ensure Iran’s compliance with this agreement.

The president’s agreement would also remove all international restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program in eight years — contradicting earlier promises from the administration — and lifts the arms embargo on conventional arms in five years.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Senate Armed Services Committee in July that ‘under no circumstances should we relieve pressure on Iran relative to ballistic missile capabilities and arms trafficking.’ Ballistic missiles are not a necessary component of a peaceful nuclear program, and Iran’s continued efforts to improve this technology sends a clear message about the country’s intentions.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said last month ‘we will buy, sell and develop any weapons we need, and we will not ask permission or abide by any resolution for that.’ Clearly, the end of the arms embargo and the ballistic missile restrictions will strengthen Iran’s ability to threaten Americans and our allies in the Middle East.

An agreement worthy of congressional approval should also include rigorous and immediate inspections of suspected nuclear sites.

During the negotiations, senior administration officials publicly called for anywhere, anytime inspections. Yet, the president’s agreement fails to live up to this standard. Instead, Iran can block access to suspected nuclear facilities for as long as 24 days. And, we have not seen all of the side agreements that are included in this deal.

Those who support ratifying the Iran agreement frequently argue that the only alternative is war. Under that false, misguided premise, the American people are being told we should accept any deal regardless of how flawed it may be. When asked if our only option was this agreement or war, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that ‘we have a range of options.’ There are better options.

I believe stronger sanctions can force Iran to accept a better agreement that will improve the security of the Middle East and the world. The danger to the United States, Israel and other American allies posed by Iran is real. As the current refugee crisis and prior acts of terror clearly demonstrate, instability and violence in the Middle East reverberates into other parts of the world.

In May, the Senate passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 on a 98-1 vote. This legislation provides Congress, as the representatives of the American people, the ability to review and vote to accept or reject the president’s nuclear deal with Iran.

It is extremely disappointing that many senators reversed their positions last week, blocking a straight up-or-down vote on the Iran Nuclear Agreement Resolution of Disapproval. A foreign policy decision of this magnitude deserves a vote, and the majority of Americans want Congress to reject this deal.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced that there will be another opportunity for a straight up-or-down vote on Tuesday, which I will support and urge my Senate colleagues to do the same.

This debate is not over yet. A better deal is possible, and the American people should accept nothing less.

Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) represents West Virginia in the U.S. Senate.
Their View

Shelley Moore Capito

U.S. Senator

Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) represents West Virginia in the U.S. Senate.

Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) represents West Virginia in the U.S. Senate.