(May 29, 2015 / JNS)
President Barack Obama reluctantly signed into law the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. He was forced to accept, by overwhelming votes in both chambers, Congress’s constitutional role in reviewing any nuclear deal with Iran and the lifting of any congressionally imposed sanctions.
Now the toughest work begins.
The U.S. and Israel both understand that the Iranians, despite their repeated denials, continue to pursue a nuclear weapons capability. We also both understand that Iran has a long and troubled track record of sharing military technology with terrorist organizations.
It’s important that Obama now negotiate an agreement that will permanently prevent an untrustworthy Iranian regime from acquiring nuclear weapons—or walk away. If he instead commits to a plan that will lead to a nuclear Iran, it is imperative that Congress stop it.
Iran is the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East and the world. It sits at the nexus of nearly every major global threat: the Syrian crisis, the rise of the Islamic State terror group, the resurgence of al-Qaeda, the crisis in Iraq that threatens gains won with U.S. blood, the chaos in Yemen that is adding to the threat of an all-out regional war, and renewed weapons trade with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
To allow this pariah nation to acquire nuclear weapons and the ability to deploy them against us and our allies—and to share them with radical Islamist organizations—would constitute an incalculable threat to both our nations’ security. It would set off a nuclear arms race that would virtually guarantee a regional war with global implications.
Alarmingly, our negotiators and the Iranians have offered wildly differing interpretations of the negotiated framework. On every principle, Iran insists it will never accept our terms. Serious questions remain about how this deal can prevent a nuclear Iran.
Will international sanctions be lifted before proof that Iran is in compliance? How and when would sanctions be restored if there are violations? Can we have an agreement in good faith with a regime that for decades has lied and cheated and has never come clean about its past efforts to weaponize nuclear technology? Will Iran be required to demonstrate changed behavior with respect to its nuclear ambitions and its sponsorship of terrorism?
I have brought forward eight principles to ensure we get the right answers and achieve a sound, enforceable deal:
• Iran must not be allowed an enrichment capability greater than the practical needs to supply one commercial reactor. The Iranians should have access to peaceful nuclear power, but the infrastructure should be aligned to support the needs of a single nuclear reactor.
• Closure of all hardened and formerly secret sites. Iran must come clean on all outstanding issues raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), particularly concerning the possible military dimensions of Iran’s civilian nuclear program. The history of Iran’s nuclear program has been marked by deception. Sites like Fordo have no role in an Iranian civilian program. Iran must account for the full inventory of centrifuges, production facilities for components, the total number of components, assembly workshops, and storage depots for centrifuges.
• Anytime, anywhere inspections of all Iranian military and nonmilitary facilities. Iran shouldn’t have veto power over when inspectors visit its facilities, including the ability of independent parties to monitor and report on Iran’s compliance.
• Sanctions relief and access to funds currently in escrow must be phased in and fully conditioned on IAEA certification that Iran is in full compliance and has demonstrated sustained compliance over time. Allowing Iran access to these tens of billions of dollars in funds before it has fulfilled its portion of the agreement is unacceptable.
• There must be an explicit process for the “snapback” re-imposition of sanctions if Iran violates the deal. It took years to impose the sanctions which brought Iran to the negotiating table.
• Iran must not be allowed to conduct research and development on advanced centrifuges. Mastery of this technology will allow Iran to reduce its breakout time toward a nuclear weapon.
• Removal of all enriched uranium from Iran. There is no need for Iran to possess a large stockpile of low enriched uranium or any highly enriched uranium. With the exception of the small amounts enriched to 3.5 percent that will be created as part of Iran’s civilian enrichment process, all enriched uranium must be shipped out of Iran.
• Certification by the president that, before any restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program are lifted, Iran has changed its aggressive behavior in the region and no longer meets the qualifications to be designated a state sponsor of terrorism.
These eight principles largely reflect Obama’s negotiating position at the start of the process (demonstrating how far he has strayed from his original intentions). Adhering to these eight principles will ensure that Iran never acquires nuclear weapons or has the means to spread nuclear technology to radical Islamist groups.
They will protect our national security and that of our close allies. Above all, they will reassert American leadership in the Middle East and reassure our allies in the region.
Any deal that does not adhere to them will fail, with dire consequences for global security.
Sen. Lindsey Graham is the senior U.S. senator from South Carolina and a Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential election. This column first appeared in Israel Hayom, whose English-language content is distributed exclusively by JNS.org.