Last weekend, President Obama and the administration reached an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. While I certainly believe that diplomacy is the preferred method to negotiate with Iran, this deal is shameful. It undermines our diplomatic goal to reach an agreement that permanently halts Iran’s uranium enrichment program. Any deal must include swift and decisive action that forces Iran to completely abandon its crusade to acquire nuclear weapons. The negotiated agreement falls far short and allows an untrustworthy regime to maintain the tools and materials necessary to implement nuclear weapons, putting our nation and our allies at risk.
This shortsighted deal guarantees no new penalties on Iran for the next six months and relieves numerous existing sanctions, reducing our leverage in exchange for a mere temporary delay to Iran’s nuclear weapons capability. Further, the agreement allows Iran President Hassan Rouhani and his regime to operate centrifuges and to continue uranium enrichment levels at 5 percent. Recognizing Iran’s decision to continue pursuing nuclear technology gives this dishonest regime the ability to rapidly enrich uranium to levels needed for a nuclear arsenal in a short period of time. We must not give a dangerous regime with a penchant for terrorism and extremism the capability to build a weapon before the world can react. A nuclear equipped Iran is the most dangerous threat to Israel and the stability of the Middle East.
The United States occupies a unique place in the world that allows us to advocate for peace, democracy and freedom. This position is backed by our commitment to these principles at home, but is also tied to our ability to take a leadership role through the use of our economic, political and military power. Negotiations like this require serious discussions about our policy in the Middle East, not a unilateral decision by President Obama and his administration that weakens our national security and threatens our allies. Our ability to maintain peace in the region hinges on our ability to dismantle Iran’s nuclear arsenal. We have made tremendous strides forward in bringing Iran to the negotiating table, thanks in part to the very sanctions that the administration is trying to eliminate. Reducing sanctions now merely rewards bad behavior and fundamentally halts the progress we’ve made.
This bad deal offers concessions to a regime that we should not tolerate, consequently withdrawing vital diplomatic influence from this region. Instead of reducing our influence and taking steps backward, we must pursue every avenue to ensure that Iran does not engage in nuclear proliferation and, most importantly, does not fully develop nuclear weapons. The only suitable agreement is one that indefinitely ends the Iranian uranium enrichment program and tightens economic sanctions.
In August, I co-sponsored the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013 (H.R. 850), a broad, bipartisan bill supported by 400 House lawmakers that provides a strong framework of sanctions. We must keep the pressure on Iran and this bill is a good starting point. I hope my colleagues in the Senate will act swiftly to implement this bipartisan bill. Our nation faces a serious challenge in ensuring the security of our homeland, Israel and our allies, and I am committed to working with my colleagues to hold bad actors like Iran accountable.