Rep. Dan Newhouse | We need a stronger Iran deal

By Rep. Dan Newhouse
4th Congressional District of Washington

Last week, President Trump used his legal authority to withdraw the U.S. from President Obama’s flawed 2015 deal with Iran, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA). I opposed Obama’s Iran deal in 2015 because it did not do enough to keep Iran from a path to developing a nuclear weapon. One of my main concerns was that in exchange for economic sanctions relief for Iran, the JCPA failed to require that nation to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure, leaving it a dangerous state on the threshold of acquiring nuclear weapons.

Iran is run by a totalitarian regime whose leaders still stoke cries of “death to America” and burn American flags. Any deal with the regime should have ensured that Iran would be held accountable to the strictest terms. We cannot rely on Iran’s trustworthiness. President Obama’s flawed deal with the Iranian regime gave that country $100 billion of sanctions relief and included hundreds of millions of dollars of cash flown in an unmarked cargo plane directly to Iran.

Remember that the deal’s infusion of relief and cash was sent to a regime recognized as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and the Obama administration acknowledged that some of that relief would be used for terrorism. Obama’s former Secretary of State John Kerry admitted as much in 2016, saying, “I think that some of it will end up in the hands of the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps] or of other entities, some of which are labeled terrorists. To some degree, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that every component of that can be prevented.”

Obama’s Iran deal was never ratified by the U.S. Senate, which is required to approve treaties under the U.S. Constitution. For a treaty to be ratified under the U.S. Constitution, two-thirds of U.S. senators must vote in favor. In the case of the JCPA, which was an executive agreement, 58 senators – including Democrats – actually opposed it, including Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY). I joined a majority of the U.S. House to vote to reject the deal in a bipartisan vote of 262-162.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently presented evidence that Iran was “brazenly lying” about maintaining a nuclear weapons program and has been secretly storing 55,000 files of its weapons program’s archives. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “The documents show that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program for years. Iran sought to develop nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems. Iran hid a vast atomic archive from the world and from the IAEA — until today.”

President Trump saw Obama’s deal as so flawed that he had no option but to withdraw from it. The U.S. can no longer act blindly, simply hoping that totalitarian regimes keep their word. It is now up to the Trump Administration to return to the negotiation table with our allies for a long-term deal that includes a mechanism to verify that Iran keeps its word.

 

Dan Newhouse is a representative in the 4th Congressional District of Washington.