Thursday, September 10, 2015

ICYMI: Senator John Boozman Speaks in Opposition to Iran Deal

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) spoke on the Senate floor last night in opposition to the Iran deal and to urge his colleagues not to filibuster the debate.

The following are Boozman’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, this debate is vital. Despite President Obama’s initial objections to Congressional oversight, the American people deserve a say in this critical national security matter—which I’d note has been negotiated behind closed doors.

The bill we passed in May accomplished. Now the Senate Democrats are talking about taking that away by filibustering this debate. It seems old habits die-hard for the Minority Leader.

How we went from passing Senator Corker’s bill by a vote of 98 to 1 just a few months ago to a potential filibuster is baffling to the American people. Our constituents want this debate. They have a number of concerns about this deal. We are their voice. We are here to represent them, not to protect the President from a difficult veto.

When these discussions began, President Obama claimed we would be able to diplomatically dismantle Iran’s nuclear program. The final agreement suggests this is far from the case. It is apparent the President and his negotiating partners were willing—eager even—to give into every demand made by the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. The goalposts were moved from dismantling Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program to blindly hoping we can contain it.

The deal President Obama and Secretary State Kerry have orchestrated has several key faults. For starters, under the deal, Iran is not required to destroy a single centrifuge. Not one.

That means well over a thousand centrifuges will remain in place at Fordow, one of Iran’s most infamous nuclear sites. Many will continue to operate. This is no ordinary facility. It is a fortified, underground military bunker built into the side of a mountain. It was constructed in secret and has served one purpose—to covertly produce weapons-grade highly enriched uranium.

When the talks began, the President was adamant that Fordow must be closed as part of the final agreement. However, over the course of the negotiations, the President caved. The Iranians will be able to maintain the capacity to continue enrichment activities at Fordow.

The President claims that verification will ensure Iran’s compliance, but verification appears to be exactly where this deal is lacking any punch. There is nothing in this deal that lets us confidently say we know what truly is going on at any of the nuclear sites in Iran.

There are no “anytime, anywhere” inspections—including at Fordow. Even worse, international inspectors won’t even be the ones handling inspections at the country’s military complex in Parchin. The Iranians themselves will be. How this is acceptable to anyone is astonishing. There is absolutely no reason, given the regime's history, to believe that Iranian inspectors will be honest about what is going on in Parchin.

A lack of verification is far from the only troubling aspect of this agreement. The Iranian regime believes that the agreement gives them full, permanent relief from sanctions.

Lifting sanctions will provide Iran with approximately $100 billion in previously frozen assets, which the administration has openly admitted will go, at least in part, to the Iranian military and its terrorist offshoots.

It was hard enough to get the international community to commit to sanctions in the first place. With a reprieve of this nature, we will never be able to reestablish them should Iran not live up to its end of this agreement—which is a strong possibility given the Iranian regime’s duplicitous actions in the past.

Along with sanctions relief, the international arms embargo and ban on ballistic missile research will be lifted. Within the next eight years, Iran will have access to modern, offensive weaponry.

This does not bode well for peace in the region. It puts our security and that of our allies at great risk. Remember, we are talking about the world’s leading state sponsor of terror. What we are giving up as a result of this deal—the sanctions relief, the arms embargo, the ongoing enrichment—makes the world a more dangerous place.

We have a responsibility to ensure that Iran never achieves its goal of becoming a nuclear power. If Iran goes nuclear, Saudi Arabia and other nations in the region surely will follow. The deal gives us little confidence that we will be successful in this regard.

A nuclear Iran could be devastating for America and our allies. This is about saving our children and grandchildren from the prospects of nuclear war. I cannot confidently say this agreement will accomplish this goal. In fact, I fear it moves us in the wrong direction. For that reason, I oppose the deal and intend to support the resolution of disapproval.

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