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McConnell: 'Fatally Flawed' Nuclear Deal Stoked Emergence of 'Complex and Lethal Threats'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 2018 Policy Conference at the Washington Convention Center in Washington on March 6, 2018. (Ron Sachs/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) charged that the Obama administration’s “fealty to the nuclear deal spawned a reluctance to address Iran’s regional ambitions” and that the JCPOA was “fatally flawed.”

Speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference this morning, McConnell said that “as our forces and forward presence were diminished, complex and lethal threats emerged” in the Middle East.

The nuclear deal “gave international legitimacy to Iran’s uranium enrichment program” as Iran gained sanctions relief “and worked aggressively to spread its influence through malign behavior and expansionism,” he added.

“The notion that Sunni powers in the Middle East needed to learn to ‘share the neighborhood’ with Iran created a void,” McConnell said of Obama-era policy. “And Iran was happy to exploit that void, menacing our ships and planes deployed to the Persian Gulf.”

“All these failures stemmed from a central misunderstanding: For eight years, the previous administration failed to lead as an ally. It failed to recognize that the U.S. and Israel are stronger together, and that we share a commonality of interests. It’s more than just national friendship and shared history. Yes, America was the first country to recognize Israel’s Jewish government in 1948. Yes, in 1985, America’s first-ever free trade agreement was signed with none other than Israel,” he said.

“But it’s also just a reality of our world. Israel is safer because of America’s presence in the Middle East. And American interests benefit when Israel stands as a partner in pursuit of common interests in this troubled region.”

McConnell noted that “many of our regional partners are focused on Iran’s aggressive policies and seeking America’s support,” but “make no mistake: Israel will have the firm support of the United States, diplomatically and militarily, as befits this historic partnership.”

“The challenges that Israel and America face today are challenges we must face together, with deep friendship and shared resolve. Israel lives in a neighborhood which includes a profoundly broken Syria, a dangerous Iran, the threat of ISIL in the Sinai and an emboldened Hezbollah,” he added. “But today, tomorrow, and always, Israel’s beacon of democracy will continue to shine through the darkness. And America will be right there, standing proudly alongside our friends.”