Menendez: Deal ‘Legitimizes Iran’ As Threshold State, ‘Preserves’ Iran’s Nuclear Program

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said that the Iran deal “ultimately legitimizes Iran as a threshold nuclear state” and “doesn’t end Iran’s nuclear program, it preserves it” on Tuesday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “The Rundown with Jose Diaz-Balart.”

Menendez said that he has to see the whole deal because “details make an enormous amount of consequence in terms of how they’re written,” He added, “But let’s realize what the deal is and is not, even in its framework. The deal ultimately legitimizes Iran as a threshold nuclear state. The deal doesn’t end Iran’s nuclear program, it preserves it. From what I’ve read so far, the deal doesn’t provide for the anytime, anyplace inspections that we wanted of suspected sites. The deal has a commission that ultimately will decide whether a violation can be pursued, and the clock on that potential violation, especially if it’s access to any — to sites that we suspect, when there is a dispute with Iran, would take, when you add up all the different elements, 24 days, nearly a month. So, those are just elements that have come out that are worrisome, but we’ll have to look at the totality of the agreement and see as Tom Friedman of the New York Times said about a week ago, is this the best bad deal that can be achieved?”

Menendez also stated, “it’s amazing to me that we included the arms embargo and the missile technology question as part of this deal. The reality is is that there’s a reason why Iran wants that. It wants to be able to continue to deploy its terrorism throughout the region, as it is presently doing, even in desperate economic straits. I worry about intercontinental ballistic missiles, and their ability to produce it. They’ve been refining their Shahab missiles, among others, to be able to do that. And when they get 100 to $150 billion, yes, most of it will probably be spent in Iran, but if you just take 10% of that money for their terrorism efforts, we have a real challenge in what will happen in the greater Middle East as a result of Iran having that type of money. So,the question is, this does not guarantee that Iran will not achieve a nuclear weapon in the future. And I wish when the president came out today, one of the things that he would have said that would have assuaged me a little bit, would have been, ‘But under no circumstances will the United States permit Iran to achieve a nuclear weapon.’ He didn’t say that. And the reality is is that a decade from now, when many of the elements of this program are over, Iran is going to be able to move forward. It has a significant part of its infrastructure in place. It can reassemble that which it has stored, and off we go. And the question is, if you’re going to have to face an Iran that is determined to achieve nuclear weapons, do you want to face them when they’re at their weakest point, both economically and otherwise, and their defense mechanisms, or do you want to face them when they’re at their strongest point, when their economy has revived, when they [are] flush with money, when they bought the S-300 from Russia, that is a defense missile system that will make it more harder should they break out. These are the questions that we’ll have to look at on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”


Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett