The Iranian deal: Let’s look at the facts
David R. Adelman
The discussion relating to the Iranian nuclear agreement has become a debate of political rhetoric, where one side continues to blast the president with exaggerated and offensive comments and the other side accusing those against the deal as warmongers. The rhetoric, on both sides, distracts from the conversation the American public deserves. A public debate on the merits of the agreement and its close scrutiny by Congress is healthy if the focus is on the facts.
Between July 11 and 19, I traveled to Israel with a group of progressive leaders from Iowa and New Hampshire. The trip consisted of discussions with elected officials at the Knesset, traveling into Ramallah to meet with Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat, and meeting with regular Israeli Arabs and Jews. On July 14 the Iranian nuclear agreement was announced. Our group listened to a wide spectrum of views and opinions on issues ranging from the Palestinian peace process, high-tech innovation and social/cultural norms. However, the morning after the announced agreement there was uniformity in thought about the framework (details had not yet been published) of the agreement. Regardless of whether we spoke with Israeli Jews or Arabs from the right or left of the political spectrum, a sense of panic had descended on Israel.
The concern that transcended both the Jews and Arabs we spoke with was the fact America’s allies (Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia) were not at the table during these negotiations and the Iranian government/Revolutionary Guard has acted and has stated they will continue to act against these U.S. allies in the region by destabilizing areas like Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Libya. The framework did not include any language requiring the Iranians to cease these activities or curb their military prowess.
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry expended extraordinary efforts in crafting this agreement. The diplomatic and economic pressures applied were successful in bringing Iran to the negotiating table. If the deal is rejected by Congress, it will force the Iranians back to negotiate with an understanding the American people are serious about a better deal.
The agreement does have some positive points, which include suspending the Iranian nuclear program. The reactor in Arak, the facility in Natanz and Fordow will stop threatening the world in the next decade. Reducing the number of centrifuges and the amount of enriched uranium and monitoring the known sites — these are all substantial achievements. However, from the very moment of the deal’s announcement, Iranian leaders have directly contradicted U.S. positions and denied their key commitments.
Among my concerns with the agreement are that Iran is reaping huge rewards for giving up something it denied in the first place. The deal fails to provide adequate oversight and enforcement. It does not provide for “anytime, anywhere” inspections and allows the Iranians to take their own soil samples.
The agreement strengthens the Iranian regime and its support of terrorism by freeing up billions of dollars, allowing Iran to bolster its support for Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist organizations destabilizing the region. On July 21, Iran’s deputy foreign minister said the nuclear deal did not include limitations on Iran’s weapons capabilities and Tehran would keep arming its regional allies. On July 28, Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, reiterated his desire to eradicate Israel and the Jewish people. Further, the deal legitimizes Iran as a nuclear threshold state as it leaves the majority of Iran’s extensive nuclear infrastructure intact, and allows virtually instant “breakout time” after 15 years.
Those who believe in a stable Middle East and recognize Israel’s right to exist should be opposed to the deal, as a statement of values and principles.
Congress must create the opportunity for a better deal. The agreement does not satisfy the requirements Congress has set in the areas of inspections, possible military dimensions, phased sanctions relief, duration, and dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Rejecting the Agreement avoids locking in the negative consequences of a bad deal. We would avoid legitimizing Iran’s path to a nuclear weapons capability and providing up to $150 billion within months to the leading state sponsor of terrorism. Throughout history, Congress has successfully insisted on improvements to agreements negotiated by the executive branch.
The right approach is to reject this deal and renew efforts to reach an agreement that will verifiably block all Iranian paths to a nuclear weapon. It is uncomfortable to oppose an agreement that purports to promote peace, but I believe we are at a monumental crossroads. The United States can appease a regime that is the foremost state sponsor of terrorism, continuously threatens to eliminate Israel, chants death to America, has killed American troops during the war in Iraq, holds four American hostages, and executes more political prisoners than any other nation per capita. Or we can stand firm in demanding change in its behavior while creating stability in the region.
DAVID R. ADELMAN is president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org