Former Vice President Dick Cheney said the White House’s decision not to handle the Iran nuclear agreement like a treaty was a “serious procedural mistake.”
“I think this should have been treated as a treaty, that it’s that important, rather than the way it is being treated – and of course if we had handled it as a treaty then it would take a two-thirds vote of the Senate to ratify it, which is the traditional way of doing business,” Cheney said in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute on Tuesday.
“We’ve done a lot of executive agreements over the years, but this one is so important with such enormous ramifications that a failure to follow that regular procedure strikes me as a mistake. It was a negotiated arrangement, I guess, but as we look at it now you don’t need a two-thirds vote of the Senate to verify it, they only need one-third plus one, so I think it was serious procedural mistake,” he added.
The House is expected to vote on the agreement this week.
During his remarks, Cheney said approval of the nuclear agreement would not prevent a nuclear Iran. An antiwar protester attempted to interrupt Cheney’s speech and was escorted out of the room.
“Along with a pathway to a nuclear arsenal, President Obama’s agreement will provide Iran with funds and weapons the regime will use for the support of terror, the dominance of the Middle East, and the furtherance of Tehran’s efforts to destroy Israel, threaten Arab regimes, and prevent the United States from defending our allies and our interests in the Persian Gulf and beyond,” he said.
Cheney told the audience the results of the agreement could be catastrophic.
“With the removal of restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program, this agreement will give Iran the means to launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland,” he said. “I know of no nation in history that has agreed to guarantee that the means of its own destruction will be in the hands of another nation, particularly one that is hostile. What President Obama is asking the United States Congress to do is unique — historically and dangerously unique. The results may be catastrophic.”
Cheney criticized Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for secretly negotiating with the Iranians as early as 2011 and attempting to convince the regime they can trust the United States government.
“If we walk away from this deal, Secretary Kerry recently claimed, the regime in Tehran will learn, ‘You can’t trust the West.’ A negotiation based on the premise that the United States had to gain the trust of the world’s worst state sponsor of terror was never going to end well,” he said.
The former congressman predicted that the agreement would likely accelerate Iran’s nuclear proliferation while other nations demand the same right.
“America’s friends and allies in the Middle East, including the Gulf Arab states, know that their own security hangs in the balance as the United States enables Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” he said.
Cheney suggested that the deal be improved so that Iran is required to inform inspectors about its past nuclear development activity.
“Secretary Kerry seemed to understand this in April 2015 when he said the Iranians would have to disclose past activity,” he said. “Two months later, in July of this year, Secretary Kerry’s position changed dramatically.”
In June, Kerry said the U.S. had absolute knowledge of Iran’s past activities.
“We’re not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one time or another,” Kerry said, according to Reuters.
“If you’re looking for a quick summary of Secretary Kerry’s position on the need for Iran to completely disclose all its past nuclear activity, you could say he was for it before he was against it,” Cheney said, referencing a quote from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) about the Iraq War, which the 2004 George W. Bush re-election campaign used against Kerry.
“With this agreement, the current administration is saying to Iran in effect – you can enrich uranium, you can have ICBMs and by the way you can also get back full-swing into the arms trade. Oh yes, and here’s $150 billion, which we implore you, please, not to share with your terrorist friends,” he added.
When it is implemented, Cheney said the agreement would provide billions of dollars to a regime that has pledged to destroy Israel and maintains “Death to America” as a “central pillar” of its policies.
“Arming and funding Iran while simultaneously providing them a pathway to a nuclear arsenal is not an act of peace. It’s not, as President Obama claims, the only alternative to war. It is madness,” he said.
Cheney also touched upon the issue of cyber security during his appearance, arguing that the federal government should be focusing more on protecting the personal data of Americans from foreign hackers.
“At the same time Congress was debating and adopting a measure to, in effect, take all of the data that we collected in the NSA program and turn it back to the companies without any limits or restrictions on what they are to do with it, the same week that debate was going forward in the Congress and being passed, it was disclosed that the Chinese had hacked into our personnel database here,” he said.
“All of us who ever worked for the federal government, and I don’t mean to take this personally, all of us including a lot of the members of the Congress, their security background checks and so forth and their personnel records are in the hands of the Chinese.”
Cheney said the Chinese were “ripping us off while we were raising our hands saying ‘oh my gosh, we can’t have the NSA collecting facts of call data on American citizens.’”
“Nobody to my knowledge has produced one single instance where the civil liberties of an American citizen has been violated by that program, not one,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) later tweeted, “There are a lot of good reasons to support
#IranDeal. But the best might be that Dick Cheney’s against it.”