The House Foreign Affairs Committee hosted experts on the Middle East on Thursday to examine the new Iran deal and its consequences for U.S. national security and foreign policy. Committee chair Ed Royce (R-CA) put the question to expert witnesses and fellow representatives: “[A]re temporary constraints on Iran’s nuclear program worth the price of permanent sanctions relief?”
He added: “And if Iran does cheat–they have on every agreement that I know of–could sanctions, developed over years be quickly put back in place?”
Testifying before were Ambassador Robert Joseph of the National Institute for Public Policy), Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and Ilan Goldenberg of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for New American Security.
All three voiced great concerns over the deal’s concessions to Iran, which will eviscerate the sanctions web (energy, missiles, economic) that has been placing intense pressure on the regime, while permitting Iran to continue with research and development to reach an industrialized nuclear program.
Under this agreement, Royce said, the winners are all actors that are hellbent on the destruction of the United States and Israel. “The IRGC under this agreement is a winner, Hamas will be able to build its tunnels faster and Hezbollah will receive more guns,” Rep. Royce said. “It defies the mind to believe it will not bolster Iran’s international support for terrorism.”
It was also noted throughout the testimony that Iran is actively seeking to build inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBM) when the world is fully aware that ICBMs are built for the sole purpose of delivering nuclear weapons.
“So one has to ask… why would they be spending all this money on an ICBM capability if they have no intention of developing a nuclear weapon?” Ambassador Joseph asked.
“We know that Iran will cheat,” Joseph said, as he urged Congress to reject the deal. He used Libya, which gave up its nuclear program voluntarily (and is now Obama’s failed model for countering terrorism in the Middle East) as an example that we can do better with regard to Iran. “Libyans took us to sites without delay and without obstruction.”
Joseph said that while Russia and China will criticize America if Congress votes against this deal, the cost and risks of accepting the agreement far outweigh the alternatives of going back to the negotiating table.
Ilan Goldenberg said that the biggest problem was that the restrictions phase out in 10-15 years. He called for legislation to ensure snap -back sanctions. He added: “The next president must spend more time meeting with Saudi Arabia and Israel to address their concerns.”
Mark Dubowitz suggested that the deal is not for 15 years at all but more like eight years, noting that on the front end of this agreement, the UN is dismantling all sanctions. It has also been suggested that Iran is effectively immunizing itself against future snap-back sanctions due to the amount of wealth it could potentially acquire because of international business opportunities.
Under the terms of the agreement, the United States will not be permitted to inspect any of Iran’s nuclear sites, he noted. Furthermore, the IAEA will not be permitted to examine Iran’s “suspected” nuclear sites on demand, and Iran will receive 24 days advanced notice before any inspections, which will allow them to “scrub” the sites of nuclear residue.
Dubowitz reminded Congress that we had already lost in Pakistan and North Korea, both of which are now nuclear powers. He suggested that now would be an better time to use military force against Iran–if necessary–while Iran is still weak, as opposed to years down the line when it has a stronger, more capable military force with nuclear abilities.