Congress should reject Iran nuke deal

July 23, 2015

The pursuit of a nuclear program by Iran is not about energy or weapons; it’s about power. Secretary of State John Kerry should have used the recent missed deadline in the nuclear negotiation between Iran and major world powers as an excuse to walk away. He could have finally heeded the advice and guidance of our partners in the region and dealt with Iran as the belligerent exporter of terrorism that it is. By agreeing to a bad deal, they are enabling Iran to use delay tactics to continue its nuclear program to flip the balance of power in the region.

An Iran under the pressure of financial sanctions is dangerous; an Iran without those restrictions and flush with cash is even more dangerous. Under various forms of financial sanctions since 1979, the Iranian government has for the past four decades fundedHezbollah, responsible for numerous terror attacks, including against the Marine barracks in Beirut, the Khobar Towers and U.S. embassies. Now, with Iran set to recover up to $150 billion from foreign bank accounts frozen due to nuclear sanctions, the Iranians will be well-capitalized to conduct the same types of attacks they are known for while biding their time on nuclear weapons construction.

Lifting the ban on selling traditional arms to Iran is a brazen attempt to further strengthen Iranian military might in the Middle East. Recently, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had the audacity to claim, “Lifting the arms embargo would help Iran to advance its efficiency in fighting terrorism.” While I understand Foreign Minister Lavrov’s interest in ultimately selling weapons to Iran, the exact opposite will happen if this embargo is lifted.

Despite sanctions, the Iranian government has provided small arms and explosives to both theTaliban and Iraqi militias, which were used to produce IEDs used against coalition forces. Over the past few years, despite sanctions, the Iranian security apparatus has put itself in a position to brag about being in control of four Arab capitals — Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Sanaa.

Additionally, as Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute outlines in a recent report, the size and scope of Iran’s offensive cyber capabilities has grown significantly in the last few years and is a very dangerous cyberthreat to U.S. critical infrastructure.

Supporters of Iran are quick to highlight Iranian efforts to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Iran recognizes the threat to its strategic interest by ISIS, but as the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, remarked during his March speech to a joint session of Congress, “The enemy of your enemy is still sometimes your enemy.”

We don’t have to conjecture on what the Iranians believe. Their own words reveal their true intentions. In the midst of the recent negotiations, the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced last week that the U.S. was an “arrogant power which must be resisted even after a deal.”

Having spent almost a decade as an undercover officer in the CIA chasing bad guys, I learned firsthand that previous actions are indicative of future behavior. Iran’s bad behavior has been a special focus of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA. The U.S. Institute of Peace outlines that between June 2003 and September 2010, the IAEA issued 30 reports on Iran’s nuclear program and its covert activities dating to the 1980s. Tehran initially cooperated with the IAEA, but eventually the agency secured four rounds of sanctions against Iran after finding the Iranians hiding a wide range of strategic nuclear work.

To think the leaders of Iran have changed and won’t do this again under a new deal is pure naiveté.

The alternative to walking away from a nuclear deal with Iran is not war. It is additional sanctions that prevent Iran from strengthening its control of the Middle East. The current agreement is indeed historic in the fact that it will only enable Iran to increase its power over the Middle East.

I urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to prevent President Barack Obama from empowering a known enemy. Vote against approving this deal.

Republican Will Hurd represents Texas’ 23rd Congressional District.