In some respects, the indictment of Sen. Robert Menendez may have been the best thing to have ever happened for those who oppose President Obama’s appeasement of Iran in the form of his disastrous nuclear deal.
For the New Jersey senator — no longer forced to be loyal to the Obama administration that cut his legs out from under him by way of the Justice Department — was able to take a position on Iran that his craven colleague Sen. Charles Schumer would not: No to the Iran Deal and no to any presidential veto.
Following up on his under-appreciated but compelling statement against the raising of the U.S. flag in Cuba (perhaps the only other issue on which I agree with Sen. Menendez), the senator made an emphatic and pointed speech at Seton Hall University, formally declaring his opposition to the Iran Deal.
It surely must have stuck in the Obama administration’s craw.
From the address:
“This deal grants Iran permanent sanctions relief in exchange for only temporary – temporary — limitations on its nuclear program – not a rolling-back, not dismantlement, but temporary limitations. At year ten, the UN Security Council Resolution will disappear along with the dispute resolution mechanism needed to snapback UN sanctions and the 24-day mandatory access provision for suspicious sites in Iran.
“The deal enshrines for Iran, and in fact commits the international community to assisting Iran in developing an industrial-scale nuclear power program, complete with industrial scale enrichment. While I understand that this program will be subject to Iran’s obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, I think it fails to appreciate Iran’s history of deception in its nuclear program and its violations of the NPT.
“If anything is a ‘fantasy’ about this agreement it is the belief that snapback, without congressionally-mandated sanctions, with EU sanctions gone, and companies from around the world doing permissible business in Iran, will have any real effect.
“The Administration cannot argue sanction policy both ways. Either they were effective in getting Iran to the negotiating table or they were not. Sanctions are either a deterrent to break-out, a violation of the agreement, or they are not.
“In retrospect, my one regret throughout this process is that I did not proceed with the Menendez-Kirk prospective sanctions legislation that would have provided additional leverage during the negotiations and would have also provided additional leverage in any possible post-agreement nullification by them or by us.
“Frankly, in my view, the overall sanctions relief being provided, given the Iranian’s understanding of restrictions on the reauthorization of sanctions, along with the lifting of the arms and missile embargo well before Iranian compliance over years is established, leaves us in a weak position, and – to me – is unacceptable.
“As the largest State Sponsor of Terrorism, Iran – who has exported its revolution to Assad in Syria, the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and directed and supported attacks against American troops in Iraq — will be flush with money, not only to invest in their domestic economy, but to further pursue their destabilizing, hegemonic goals in the region. If Iran can afford to destabilize the region with an economy staggering under sanctions and rocked by falling oil prices, what will Iran and the Quds Force do when they have a cash infusion of more than 20 percent of their GDP — the equivalent of an infusion of $3.4 trillion into our economy?
“The President should unequivocally affirm and Congress should formally endorse a Declaration of U.S. Policy that we will use all means necessary to prevent Iran from producing enough enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb, as well as building or buying one, both during and after any agreement. We should authorize now the means for Israel to address the Iranian threat on their own in the event that Iran accelerates its program and to counter Iranian perceptions that our own threat to use force is not credible. And we should make it absolutely clear that we want a deal, but we want the right deal — and that a deal that does nothing more than delay the inevitable isn’t a deal we will make.
“We must send a message to Iran that neither their regional behavior nor nuclear ambitions are permissible. If we push back regionally, they will be less likely to test the limits of our tolerance towards any violation of a nuclear agreement.
“The agreement that has been reached failed to achieve the one thing it set out to achieve – it failed to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state at a time of its choosing. In fact, it authorizes and supports the very road map Iran will need to arrive at its target.
“I know that the Administration will say that our P5+1 partners will not follow us, that the sanctions regime will collapse and that they will allow Iran to proceed, as if they weren’t worried about Iran crossing the nuclear- weapons capability threshold. I heard similar arguments from Secretary Kerry, when he was Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, as well as Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, Assistant Secretary of Treasury David Cohen and others, when I was leading the charge to impose new sanctions on Iran.
“That didn’t happen then and I don’t believe it will happen now. Despite what some of our P5+1 Ambassadors have said in trying to rally support for the agreement, and echoing the Administration’s admonition, that it is a take it or leave it proposition, our P5+1 partners will still be worried about Iran’s nuclear weapon desires and the capability to achieve it. They, and the businesses from their countries, and elsewhere, will truly care more about their ability to do business in a U.S. economy of $17 trillion than an Iranian economy of $415 billion. The importance of that economic relationship is palpable as we negotiate TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement.
“At this juncture it is important to note that, as an AP story acknowledged, over history, Congress has rejected outright or demanded changes to more than 200 treaties and international agreements, including 80 that were multilateral.
“Whether or not the supporters of the agreement admit it, this deal is based on ‘hope’– hope that when the nuclear sunset clause expires Iran will have succumbed to the benefits of commerce and global integration. Hope that the hardliners will have lost their power and the revolution will end its hegemonic goals. And hope that the regime will allow the Iranian people to decide their fate.
“Hope is part of human nature, but unfortunately it is not a national security strategy.
P.S. Expect a lot of rhetoric like this in the coming days on the “Israel Lobby” from the Zionistrein Democratic Party.
— Max Fisher (@Max_Fisher) August 18, 2015
Featured Image Source: YouTube screengrab/Sen. Robert Menendez.