Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) blasted the prospect of a new Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday, as Iran agreed to drop some of its demands and rumors circulated of an imminent agreement.
“A year ago, Joe Biden gave Afghanistan to the Taliban,” Cruz said in a statement. “Now he intends to give a nuclear arsenal to Iran. … Thousands of people will die because of the Iranian terrorism enabled by this deal. Tens of millions may die because of the nuclear arsenal it will provide to the Ayatollah.”
The original Iran deal came about after years of sanctions — which then-President Barack Obama had resisted — that finally convinced Iran to come to the negotiating table. However, the U.S. dropped many of the sanctions as a precondition to talks, allowing Iran’s economy to recover and eroding the west’s leverage against the regime. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to the U.S. to warn Congress that unless the deal also punished Iran for its terror activities, it would be ineffective.
Obama ignored Netanyahu and reached a deal that merely slowed Iran’s nuclear research, allowing Iran to become a nuclear power after roughly a decade. The deal did not — as Obama had promised — include a ban on ballistic missile development; it also did not address Iran’s terrorism. Nor did it provide for full disclosure of Iran’s past nuclear activities. It gave the regime sanctions relief and access to up to $150 billion in foreign assets, plus — on the side — billions in cash for U.S. prisoners.
The deal was never presented to the Senate for ratification, as required by the U.S. Constitution. Obama agreed to the passage of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which required Congress to approve the deal by a similar majority, but Democrats filibustered a resolution of disapproval in the Senate. Meanwhile, Iran sent money to terrorist proxies — and continued to work on its nuclear program. Netanyahu, citing a stolen intelligence trove, was able to show that Iran had cheated on the deal.
President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in May 2018, and applied “maximum pressure” to the regime, using not only sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program, but sanctions due to its human rights abuses as well. Iran began enriching uranium at an accelerated rate, but Trump assembled a coalition of allied nations in the Middle East who were threatened by Iran’s nuclear ambitions, leading ultimately to the Abraham Accords, a peace agreement between Israel and several Arab and Muslim states.
When President Joe Biden took office, he vowed to renew the nuclear deal. As Iran dragged out the negotiations, it continued to enrich uranium, reaching a point near nuclear “breakout.” Though the Biden administration admitted that Iran seemed to have little interest in sincere negotiations, it persisted with talks, appeasing the regime in Yemen and elsewhere — though the U.S. refused to concede the demand that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) be delisted as a terror group.
Cruz warned Monday that any new deal with the regime would simply risk more cheating, and allow Iran to emerge as a nuclear power, in exchange for unwarranted sanctions relief. “This deal will excuse Iran from … previous cheating, while enabling it to continue into the future. It repeats the inexplicable folly of the previous deal by legitimizing the regime’s nuclear program.” He vowed to work with colleagues in the Senate to block the deal and ensure its reversal in a new administration.
This week, Iran reportedly agreed to drop its demand that the IRGC be delisted as a terror group. That has fueled speculation about an imminent deal — so much so that Israel’s defense minister, Benny Gantz, announced that he will travel to the U.S. in an effort to persuade U.S. officials not to come to an agreement with Iran. Israel has long reserved the right to launch a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear program unilaterally, viewing any Iranian nuclear program as an existential threat.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.