In a recent address to the nation, President Barack Obama acknow-ledged Iran “has been unwilling to meet its obligations to the interna-tional community.” In the same speech the president vowed to “prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
But then the president announced a deal that permits Iran to continue enriching uranium — a key ingredient of nuclear weapons. An agreement allowing Iranians to continue enrichment activity is a profound and dangerous reversal of long-standing U.S. policy toward Iran.
President Obama lauded the plan as a breakthrough that “achieves a great deal.” The question is, a great deal for whom?
This interim agreement abandons entirely a firm international consensus and unanimous U.S. Senate view regarding curtailment of Iran’s enrichment capabilities. Six United Nations Security Council resolutions have called for Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment activities. All five of the permanent members of the Security Council — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States — voted for these resolutions.
Additionally, I co-sponsored a Senate resolution calling on Iran to accept the terms of these U.N. resolutions and abandon all enrichment activities. The resolution passed the Senate unanimously, including the vote of then-Sen. and now Secretary of State John Kerry. The recent agreement with Iran ignores and undermines all of this and instead concedes an ability for the country to enrich uranium in perpetuity.
In return, the six-month agreement lifts an estimated $7 billion in sanctions levied against Iran, turning on a spigot of money to a country that has backed terrorism, repeatedly threatened Israel and seeks to upend the balance of power in the volatile Middle East region.
The existing and critical sanctions regime took years of negotiations with our allies. Under this new plan, the United States and its allies would begin to dismantle sanctions before we can verify that leaders in Tehran have lived up to their part of the bargain and taken tangible steps to stop the growth of their uranium enrichment capabilities. This policy of trust-then-verify is completely backwards.