The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee noted that President Obama “set the stage for a nuclear free-for-all, with dire consequences for U.S. national security” going into his final Nuclear Security Summit this week.
Obama announced the first Nuclear Security Summit in Prague in 2009. “In that speech, the President laid out four pillars of the approach to pursue peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, while noting, of course, that so long as nuclear weapons exist we will need to have a strong and credible deterrent for the United States and our allies,” Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes reminded reporters on a conference call this week.
“Specifically, he laid out U.S. policies related to nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear security, and nuclear energy.”
But Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said those goals run counter to the P5+1 deal forged with Iran.
“Seven years ago, President Obama laid out sweeping goals for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation,” Royce said. “Yet the president’s deeply flawed deal with Iran has legitimized the supreme leader’s nuclear program – even as Iran advances its ballistic missile program and continues to support terrorism. This in turn encourages other countries to construct their own programs.”
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew defended the deal in a speech about sanctions at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace today.
“Lifting nuclear sanctions was an incentive we established to help achieve this profound change in Iran’s calculations and that incentive, coupled with tough, principled diplomacy, worked,” Lew said. “Since Iran has kept its end of the deal, it is our responsibility to uphold ours, in both letter and spirit.”
Grilled about those remarks, State Department press secretary John Kirby told reporters that he wasn’t going to debate what “in the spirit” means or “how inclusive and expansive that is.”
“We would certainly be much more comfortable and happy to see Iran cease the other destabilizing activities which it continues to support – support for terrorists and terrorist networks and, of course, the pursuit of ballistic missile technologies and the testing of those technologies. We absolutely would like to see that stop. But we continue to believe that they are meeting their obligations under the JCPOA, and we would agree with Secretary Lew that that includes in letter and spirit,” Kirby said. “…We believe they are meeting their obligations under the JCPOA, but we are not turning a blind eye to the other things that they are doing which are destabilizing the region, which violate other sanctions and this and other resolutions.”
Royce also said nations should “assume terrorists will continue to seek out the weakest links at nuclear facilities around the globe.”
“At the same time, I hope President Obama and world leaders can make progress in addressing the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, and the threats posed by North Korea’s illicit nuclear program,” the chairman added. “Participants should send a strong message that recently enacted U.N. sanctions against the Kim regime in North Korea will be fully enforced.”