It has been a year since my visit to Israel. Since I returned home, I have watched the ongoing negotiations with Iran and felt an ominous fear about what might happen. A year ago, I watched as Israel felt vulnerable, its citizens running for shelter as rockets ran down. I heard the sirens and I felt the trepidation. When I got back, I called Israel "resilient" and "tough". However, a year later, Israel stands alone, vulnerable again. Israel's resilience only means so much when it has no seat at the very negotiations table that could determine its fate. As Americans we cannot abandon our own values and we must stand by our allies in the Middle East as we pursue negotiations to prevent the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.
A nuclear capable Iran is much more than a threat to Israel. A nuclear capable Iran is a threat to the entire world. As the Washington Post's Iran correspondent Jason Rezaian continues to face a closed-door trial in Iran for 'espionage', we are reminded that Iran plays by its own rules with no regard for basic human rights or dignity. Iran persecutes minorities and treats women deplorably. The regime in Tehran is a key supporter of global terrorism, responsible for hundreds of American deaths over the past four decades.
It is undeniable that Iran's future policies will be the direct result of the strength of this deal. If the deal does not promise essential oversight, longevity, and transparency, Iran will become a country with the ultimate bargaining chip -- nuclear weaponry. And the regime will use that leverage -- at the very least -- to pursue its murderous agenda throughout the Middle East. We cannot accept a deal that would allow this regime to obtain such power.
Tehran's serious violations against international law must be considered as we finalize the deal. The regime has a rich history of deceit. They continue to play games with our diplomats while seeking ways to skirt international obligations. But we cannot allow Iran to manipulate the United States and our allies. We must demand a deal that provides real assurances that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapons capability.
Specifically, a final deal must meet several minimum requirements to halt Iran's path to nuclear weapons. First, it must require the complete dismantlement of Iran's nuclear infrastructure so that Iran has no plutonium or uranium path to nuclear weapons. The deal must also demand transparent inspections of all nuclear sites, and inspectors must have anytime/anywhere access. Third, Iran must disclose the past military dimensions of its nuclear program so that inspectors have a baseline against which to compare future actions. Fourth, the deal must last for decades, restricting Iran's nuclear capabilities until it demonstrates conclusively that it no longer seeks a nuclear weapons capability. Finally, the agreement must deliver sanctions relief gradually as Iran lives up to its commitments, rather than lifting them immediately.
If a deal is announced on June 30th, America must remember whose hands we are shaking. These are the hands of a regime that holds an American journalist in deplorable conditions with no due process. These are the hands of a regime that strips its own people of human dignity, and is the largest patron of global terrorism around the world. This is a regime that has never provided complete access to its nuclear sites, despite repeated promises to do so.
As Congress debates the merits of a final agreement with Iran, it must remember what we value in the United States. We stand for freedom; Iran does not. We stand for human dignity and the notion that all men are created equal; Iran does not. We stand for liberty and justice for all, and Iran does not.
If the president presents to Congress a final agreement that will actually prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, then Congress should support it. If the agreement falls short of this promise, then it must be defeated. The stakes are simply too high to accept anything less than a good deal.
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