President Trump should not recertify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. The JCPOA is not in America’s best interests. This so-called “deal” isn’t a pathway for how to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. It is a blueprint for exactly how Iran can acquire a nuclear weapon. It was a very bad, one-sided deal, for what was in the deal, and a very bad, one-sided deal, for what was not in the deal.
In order for the JCPOA to continue, by law, every 90 days, the current administration must recertify that Iran is fully complying with the agreement, and that the suspension of sanctions is both proportionate to the measures taken by Iran to end its illicit nuclear weapons program and vital to protect U.S. national security. The next deadline is rapidly approaching on October 15th.
President Obama declared that this deal wasn’t built on trust; it was built on verification, but I have not met a single American who has read the verification regime entered into between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran. When I questioned former Secretary of State John Kerry about the JCPOA at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, even he admitted he hadn’t read it. How do you support a deal based on verification when you don’t even know what the verification is? What we do know is that no U.S. weapons inspectors are allowed on the inspection teams. Iran is inspecting some of their own nuclear sites and collecting their own soil samples. They are also not permitting the necessary access to their military sites, which the IAEA recently asserted as preventing verification that Iran is complying with key terms of the agreement.
Without even asking for a signature, the JCPOA propped up the wrong regime in Iran with up to $150 billion in sanctions relief. Keep in mind that when people talk about how Iran elected the most moderate candidates on the ballot, they often leave out the asterisk that the 12,000 most moderate candidates were denied access to the ballot. None of Iran’s other bad activities were on the table or resolved as part of an agreement that negotiated away all of the leverage that forced Iran to sit down in the first place. These bad activities of the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism include overthrowing foreign governments, illegally test firing Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles, blowing up mock U.S. warships, seizing one of our naval vessels and subsequently holding hostage and publicly embarrassing 10 American sailors, pledging to wipe Israel off the map, and chanting Death to America in their streets on their holidays, all while unjustly imprisoning American citizens. Iranian aggression in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere is only making matters much worse since the JCPOA was entered into.
The President should place the onus completely on the Iranian regime. There is a new Sheriff in town now who will not get rolled. America will not get rolled. The JCPOA is all about Making Tehran Great Again at the expense of all else. If the Iranians need a few days to digest the new reality and step up to the plate, that is ok, but if they don’t, it is time to ramp back up our leverage immediately and I am confident that our allies will recognize that they want to remain our great, willing partners in this effort.
A better deal was necessary and obtainable. No deal would have been better than this deal. With (1) Iran’s bad activities only getting worse than ever before, (2) the JCPOA offering the pathway for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon with a jackpot of sanctions relief as a signing bonus, and (3) an unknown, secretive verification regime that even our heads of state haven’t read, this deal is clearly not in America’s best interest. Decertifying is the right move. It is past time for an important and most productive course correction.
Congressman Lee Zeldin, member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, represents the First Congressional District of New York.