Lately I am having a really hard time sleeping at night, and the source of my worry is the Middle East. Specifically, I am deeply concerned that the deal President Barack Obama is relentlessly pursuing at all costs with the terror-sponsoring regime of Iran will shred the global nonproliferation regime and spur additional countries in the world’s most unpredictable region to amass atomic arsenals.
I am not alone in that fear. As we approach the June 30 deadline, voices from the right, left and center are joining in a chorus of opposition to what appears to be a woeful and dangerous deal that will not just allow Iran to become a nuclear threshold state, but give it a pass for two decades of deceit about its underground program and pave the way for Tehran to acquire the most deadly weapons known to man.
Such a deal defies common sense. Perhaps most troubling is that the American goals outlined at the onset of the talks have fallen completely by the wayside. When he announced the talks in late 2013, Obama told the nation that the United States would “stay in close touch with our friends and allies throughout the region, including Israel.” This simply has not happened.
Saudi Arabia, an important ally for the United States, pulled out of a planned Camp David summit in April over concerns about Iran. Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates joined the Saudis in snubbing the White House. Earlier this month, news broke that the Saudis began talks with Pakistan about purchasing a nuclear weapon, pending the outcome of the Iran negotiations.
In that same 2013 speech, Obama told Americans that he expects to achieve a comprehensive solution. But last week, Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to roll back any demand for Iran to come clean about its past military nuclear work. Yukiya Amano, the director general of the IAEA, has said repeatedly that this disclosure is critical to the agency’s inspection and monitoring efforts.
Likewise, the Obama administration’s promise of a “comprehensive” agreement seems to ignore Iran’s bad geopolitical behavior. Indeed, the most recent State Department report on terrorism noted that Iran’s support for terrorism continued unabated throughout negotiations in 2014.
With a sense of desperation to show that the investment of time and effort in negotiating this deal is worth it, the administration is seeking ever more creative ways to explain away Iranian intransigence in an apparent effort to secure a foreign policy legacy win for the president. But at what cost? Literally millions of people may ultimately die in the Middle East as a result of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. Much of this region is now controlled by radical Islamic terrorists, and many of those terrorists are propped up by Tehran.
The surging, wall-to-wall bipartisan opposition to this deal by regional specialists and nonproliferation experts is telling. Just this week, former Defense Secretary William Cohen, who served under President Bill Clinton, noted that “the [Obama] administration’s intent was to have a counter-proliferation program. And the irony is, it may be just the opposite.” He also punched a gaping whole in the administration’s assertion that it can know what’s going on with Iran’s nuclear program, despite Tehran’s ongoing refusal to grant full access to international inspectors. As Cohen noted, “How do you sustain an inspection regime in a country that has carried on secret programs for 17 years and is still determined to maintain as much of that secrecy as possible?”
An ever-growing list of former high-ranking U.S. government officials has joined Cohen in questioning whether the proposed agreement would accomplish any of our goals or make the United States any safer. Five former members of Obama’s inner circle on Iran, along with several other foreign policy heavyweights, recently penned an open letter that said, “The agreement will not prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability.”
The United States must not sign an agreement that would not accomplish our goals. The consequences are simply too high. If Iran refuses to act responsibly and truly give up its quest for a nuclear weapons capability, then we must not sign on the dotted line. The threat of a nuclear arms race in a region already beset by terrorists is real, and it is terrifying. Obama must not mortgage the future of U.S. national security and that of our allies in the Middle East for a short-term solution to a long-term problem.