04.04.15

Cory Gardner: Don't allow a nuclear-armed Iran

As the Obama administration announces its framework of an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program, Coloradans would be well-served to remember the nature of the regime on the other side of the bargaining table. Following the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the ruling mullahs held 52 American diplomats hostage for 444 days, releasing them only on Jan. 20, 1981, the day President Ronald Reagan was sworn into office.

Two years later, on April 18, 1983, a truck laden with explosives rammed into the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 17 Americans. On Oct. 23, 1983, a similar attack on the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut killed 241 American servicemen. Overwhelmingly, the evidence led to Iran and its wholly owned subsidiary, Hezbollah, as the perpetrator of these attacks.

The Iranian regime has not changed in more than 30 years. It has targeted and killed Americans during the Iraq War, supported Shiite militias and supplied deadly explosives used to target our troops. Iran continues to prop up the regime of the murderous Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

The Iranian regime regularly threatens to "wipe Israel off the map" and abuses the human rights of its own people. It continues to imprison American journalist Jason Rezaian and former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati; and it refuses to divulge the whereabouts of U.S. citizen Robert Levinson.

A nuclear-armed Iran would be a disaster. It would represent a serious threat to the national security both of the United States as well as our close allies, such as Israel and the Gulf states.

Americans do not want war with Iran. This is why Congress, over many years and through multiple rounds of sanctions passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities, put extraordinary economic pressure on Iran's mullahs to bring Tehran to the negotiating table. But the Obama administration is now threatening to squander all of that considerable leverage on a deal that does little to achieve our goals.

The administration has attempted to present the American people with a choice: either war with Iran, or a bad deal that does little to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. This is a false choice, and should be rejected. This framework, based on details released thus far, appears to leave vast portions of Iran's nuclear infrastructure intact, remove all sanctions on Iran, and give the mullahs a get-out-of-jail-free-card to build all the nuclear weapons they want in as few as 10 years. Fearing that Congress would rightfully reject such a terrifying deal, the administration has preferred to take its case to the unelected bureaucrats of the United Nations, instead of the elected representatives of the American people.

I will do everything in my power as a U.S. senator to stop a bad deal that circumvents Congress. As former Sen. Joe Lieberman wrote on March 17 in the Wall Street Journal: "If presidents of both parties during the Cold War could submit sensitive nuclear-arms-control agreements negotiated with the Soviet Union to Congress for two-thirds ratification — when atomic doomsday loomed — surely the same can be done today."

I call on the administration to work with Congress to negotiate an agreement that will not harm American security and ultimately stop a nuclear Iran. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry said last week they want to work together. It's my desire to see that happen.

Following the congressional recess in April, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on which I serve, plans to consider S.615, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, legislation introduced by Sen. Bob Corker. This bipartisan legislation will require the administration to submit within five days any agreement with Iran to Congress for an up-or-down vote within 60 days. I plan to vote in favor of the bill in committee and on the Senate floor.

As a nation, we have always been able to make nuclear non-proliferation a priority of both parties. Surely we can do it again now. It is my hope that President Obama comes to the same conclusion.

Republican Cory Gardner is a U.S. senator from Colorado.


By:  Senator Cory Gardner
Source: Denver Post