With Sanctions Lifted, Will We Be Prepared to Put the Beast Back in the Box if Iran Cheats?

Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP
Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rightly inferred that one threat more dangerous than President Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal would be failing to meaningfully enforce all restrictions to Iran’s nuclear weapons program once the deal is in place.

I agreed, which is why I opposed the president’s dangerous deal and worked to defeat it in Congress.

Because I do not trust the Obama White House will prioritize the security of the American people, I have taken the lead on an effort to establish a special Select Committee in Congress to conduct ongoing oversight of the dangerous nuclear deal and sound the alarm if the Iranians cheat. Afraid to spoil what he considers the crown jewel of his foreign policy legacy, I am convinced President Obama will refuse to call Iran on its violations during his final year in office.

The Islamic Republic of Iran remains the largest state-sponsor of terrorism in the world. Iran is also the greatest source of sectarian violence and instability in the Middle East. Even with portions of its illegal nuclear weapons program on layaway, authoritarian regimes like Iran pose the longest-term national security threat to the United States.

The answer to the question we should all be asking, “Are we prepared to respond to an emboldened Iran?” is a resounding no. If left up to the Obama White House, we will be less prepared to respond to Iranian aggression than at any other time in recent history.

As someone who took an oath to defend this country, I refuse to sit idle until the unimaginable occurs: Iran cheats or simply runs out the clock, and the largest state-sponsor of terrorism threatens the United States and its allies with a nuclear weapon.

Intelligence work in the Marine Corps proved to me the strategic value in establishing a Central Command to act as a clearinghouse for disparate bits and floating bytes of information. Part of my responsibility as an officer was to oversee a team of analysts charged with synthesizing all of the data points on the map to see how one related to another. By bringing those data points together a broader picture could be drawn and a strategy developed to counter the existing threat.

We need an oversight body in the House of Representatives to mimic this role. However, no such body currently exists. Rather, ongoing oversight of Iran’s illicit actions are separated among several different committees of jurisdiction—committees with jurisdiction over many complex issues pertaining to national security, global military operations, foreign diplomacy efforts, among others.

A Select Committee would be the mechanism best suited to break through committee barriers and act as the clearinghouse for every piece of pertinent information related to Iran’s enrichment activity, uranium levels, sanctions compliance, etc. The special Select Committee would focus on four main goals:

1)      To effectively oversee Iran’s illicit activity and actions under terms of the nuclear agreement;

2)      To send a clear message overseas that the United States is vigilant and ready to respond to violations;

3)      To keep members of Congress informed who in turn keep their constituents apprised of security developments; and

4)      To prepare policymakers and the American public for next steps if, and most likely when, Iran breaks the spirit of the agreement and continues its pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

Nearly 50 lawmakers support my bipartisan initiative. After getting a taste for what a militarily and financially emboldened Iran might do, I anticipate many more joining our ranks to demand tougher oversight.

Just days ago, members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps held 10 U.S. Navy sailors at gunpoint, detained them overnight, and used them as propaganda tools in the fight against the “Great Satan.”

As a former intelligence officer in the Marine Corps, I expected to see the hostile detainment of U.S. military personnel immediately addressed by the Commander-in-Chief. Instead, in a jaw-dropping display of poor taste, President Obama spent precious time during his State of the Union speech heaping praise on the Iranian regime while its military held our sailors captive.

The president’s inappropriate response may not trouble one enough to warrant creation of a Select Committee to sound the alarm, which is why I would also point to the series of breathtaking provocations in recent months that remain unaddressed.

Since the president cut his head-in-the-clouds deal with the Islamic Republic: Iran fired unguided missiles near U.S. air carriers in an act described by the U.S. Navy as highly provocative and unsafe, but which elicited no White House response. In flagrant violation of multiple international security resolutions, Iran illegally launched two ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear payload. When the Obama administration agreed to indefinitely delay imposing any sanctions, the Iranian military unveiled its second underground missile depot and claimed it had so many of those illicit ballistic missiles it needed another bunker to store them. If this is how Iran acts now, how will it behave after president Obama’s nuclear deal initiates the deposit of $150 billion into the Ayatollah’s bank accounts?

Each of the hostile acts were too quickly brushed under the carpet or written off by the Obama administration as much ado about nothing. Secretary John Kerry even thanked Iran for its generosity in giving our sailors back!

For seven years, President Obama has paraded his policies of disengagement as the best way to protect Americans. But the Obama administration’s perceived and demonstrated weakness actually encourages such dangerous stunts and threatens American lives.

The American people deserve an honest assessment of the state of our foreign affairs. When an administration’s failures are sold to the media and the American public in a false narrative of success, Congress must be ready to set the record straight and sound the alarm.


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