Why would the United States hand over a nuclear bomb to a nation that continually violates nuclear inspection laws? To a nation that is the largest state-sponsor of terrorism in the world, a nation that holds Americans hostage, and to a nation that chants “Death to America” while burning our flag?
That is essentially what President Obama is asking Congress to do with his nuclear deal.
Here are the problems: First, as you’re reading this Iran is holding four Americans hostage. Any deal crafted with Iran should have been built on the cornerstone that we would get our people back—period. In fact, the president should have mandated their release for the U.S. even being willing to go to the negotiating table.
Rather than dismantle Iran’s nuclear capabilities, as was initially promised by the president, this deal would enhance and even validate them—allowing them to procure arms from Russia, possess ICBMs capable of hitting the U.S., and further develop their nuclear technology. Rather than allow for “anytime, anywhere” verification inspections, as was initially promised, this deal would allow Iran weeks, if not months, to move nuclear material before access was granted to a site and even allow them to self-inspect. And, rather than making the Middle East more stable, as was also promised, this deal will launch a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region in the world.
Couple all of that with the fact that Iran will now have more than $150 billion (20 percent of Iran’s GDP) in economic relief before any inspections or dismantling measures are completed and it is clear the president has forged a very bad deal. In fact, Iran has already planned to spend some of that new money on land-to-air S-300 long range missile systems from Russia. Do you think Russia would have announced they are selling long-range missiles to Iran if this deal didn’t exist?
Here’s the reality: Sanctions work. Enhancing relationships with our allies works. Blockades work. Those who claim if we do not accept this deal, we will go to war are fear mongering. We and our allies have options, and Congress will review every single one of them.
Iran has not proven to be a reliable and trustworthy negotiating partner, and their behavior is not of a responsible nation.
Earlier this month, I traveled to Israel and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and retired Commander General of the Israeli Defense Forces Amos Yaldin. We discussed the geopolitical ramifications of this deal and the very real concern that the $150 billion in economic relief will allow Iran to expand it’s funding of Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations that launch attacks against Israel, the United States and our allies. In Israeli intelligence’s estimates, in just 13 years, the deal would give Iran as many as 100 ICBMs, capable of destroying every city in America.
Iran is not our equal. Iran is the largest state-sponsor of terrorism across the globe, and giving it both billions of dollars in economic relief and also a legal pathway to a nuclear weapon will only bolster its anti-American, anti-Israel activities and aspirations. Anyone who believes that money will not go to funding terrorism and anti-American activities is naïve. I have been to war in the Middle East where men and women were injured and killed by Iranian-made weapons. I’ve conducted operations in Central and South America where Iranian influence was emerging in the 1990s and is continuing to grow.
The United States does not need this deal; Iran needs this deal. Americans oppose this deal nearly two-to-one, according to a recent poll conducted by the independent pollsters at Quinnipiac University. And even more sobering, according to a Monmouth University poll, when asked whether the United States or Iran got the better end of the deal, a shocking 41 percent to only 14 percent responded that the regime in Tehran gained more.
Congress has until September 17 to vote on the president’s proposal. I have worked beside Israeli Defense Forces, and I have defended our nation on the front lines against radical Islamic terrorists. I have seen Iranian made weapons in enemy hands. I know what is at stake. I am not deterred by President Obama’s veto threats; I will do everything I can in Congress to block this deal from ever going forward.
I remain convinced that Iran is not a trustworthy negotiating partner and the verification parameters of this deal are far from robust enough to hold Iran accountable. I commend my Democratic colleagues like U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Bob Menendez and Rep. Steve Israel for breaking from the President and voting for the American people. I am helping lead the fight against this bad deal in Congress and encourage others to stand up for America and our allies and vote no on this bad deal.
Ryan Zinke is the sole Representative from Montana in the House. As a retired 23-year Navy SEAL commander, and former Acting and Deputy Commander of Joint Special Forces in Iraq, Zinke led more than 3,500 special operators in Ramadi, Fallujah and other hostile warzones.