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Enzi: Do you trust Iran?

September 11, 2015

Mr. President,

I rise today to urge my colleagues to oppose this agreement with Iran. Iran’s nuclear program is one of the most significant threats facing the United States and the world today. The implications of this deal will have serious consequences for the Middle East, and especially for our allies in the Middle East. Russia and China are especially interested in this deal because of how it could change the international playing field. And ultimately, this deal will have serious consequences for the national security of the United States. Iran’s goal is to use its nuclear program to extort its neighbors and threaten its enemies, and it has made it very clear that it considers the United States its number one enemy. We cannot afford to make the kind of strategic blunder that would give Iran a nuclear weapon. We should not give up the advantages we have that are working to prevent Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Which is why we must oppose this deal.

President Obama has said that if we don’t accept this deal, then the only other option is war with Iran. But this isn’t true. It’s the president’s way of trying to convince the American people that his way is the only way. That’s not true either. One of the advantages of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act is that, by requiring the president to submit the deal to Congress for review, both the House and the Senate as well as the public can see what’s in the deal. I’ve taken the time to read the deal, and I’ve heard the Administration’s arguments in favor of it, and I don’t believe this deal is the best way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. We’ve also heard from experts in diplomacy, in arms control and proliferation, in the military, in national security and intelligence, who say that this deal is not the only way to prevent Iran’s nuclear ambitions from coming true.

I mentioned that the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act is important because it requires the deal and all its documentation to be sent to Congress for review. But there are separate side agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency that are not being reviewed by Congress, because they haven’t been submitted for review. These side agreements deal with the military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. These are the parts of Iran’s program that will allow them to launch a nuclear weapon against Israel, or American forces in the Middle East, or eventually with enough work, anywhere in the world.

I am deeply concerned that we don’t have all of the facts about this deal. These are facts about Iran’s military program, facts about how confident we can be that Iran is complying with the rules. We should not move forward with any agreement until we have a full understanding of all of the components that are part of it.

Understanding all the components of this deal isn’t just about the documents that were submitted to Congress. It’s also about understanding what happens when Iran has the freedom and resources to grab for power and position in the region. The President and his advisors have said that this deal is a pathway to security and stability. Unfortunately, this administration’s track record on the Middle East demonstrates that the President’s has consistently misjudged critical moments in the region—from failing to enforce the red line in Syria on chemical weapons, to not maintaining U.S. forces in Iraq, to not taking the Islamic State seriously and developing a real strategy to defeat it. This deal once again misjudges the difficult and dangerous situation in the Middle East by believing that Iran—whose top leaders never hesitate to call America their number one enemy—will not take advantage of the situation to attack our allies and undermine American interests. Iran will take advantage, by using the huge cash infusion that comes with this deal to support Hezbollah and buy arms from Russia. This agreement is not a pathway to peace or stability, it is Iran’s springboard to grow into the Middle East’s most dangerous bully.

For more than a decade, the United States and our allies have used sanctions effectively to prevent Iran from achieving its nuclear ambitions. The sanctions that have worked to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons took years to implement and demonstrated the commitment of our international partners to preventing an outcome that we all recognize would be a disaster. Under this agreement, we would be giving up the sanctions that have worked in exchange for the hope that Iran will keep to the agreement. We will give up sanctions that have worked effectively at stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions because President Obama says this is the best we can get. But it sounds to me like we are giving up the most important tool we have for nothing.

I appreciate the work of my colleagues who supported the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. Congress should have the responsibility to review this kind of agreement. I believe that this agreement should be subject to the Constitution’s advice and consent requirements as a treaty. This president has demonstrated his willingness over and over to go behind Congress’s back, to sidestep the Constitution, and to find new ways to push his agenda through. Unfortunately, this agreement is no different. President Obama has said that no matter what Congress does, he will implement this deal, either as a so-called executive agreement, or through the United Nations. That should be disturbing to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. It should be disturbing to anyone who takes the Constitution’s treaty clause seriously.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this deal. It is not the best that we can get. It ignores the reality of the complex and dangerous political situation in the Middle East and relies on nothing more than hope that Iran will keep its promise, despite all the times it has failed to do so in the past. It trades away an effectives system of sanctions that has worked to prevent Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and exchanges it for nothing. It gives Iran everything it needs to pour money and resources in attacking our allies, supporting terrorism, and taking advantage of instability in the region. Iran has demonstrated that it is committed to doing whatever it takes to get into a position where it can undermine America’s interests, and so we must be even more committed to stopping this deal.