A House Democrat says he’ll not only vote against the Iran nuclear deal, but top it off with a bill to authorize military force as needed against the Islamic Republic to keep it from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), ranking House Dem on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, or U.S. Helsinki Commission, and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, got quickly to the point in a Palm Beach Post op-ed: “After careful review, I have decided that I cannot support this deal.”
“The goal of the recently concluded negotiations was to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The negotiators worked diligently, but in the end, the JCPOA allows Iran to remain a nuclear threshold state while simultaneously reaping the benefits of relief from international sanctions,” Hastings wrote.
“Under the JCPOA, Iran is limited to approximately 6,100 first-generation IR-1 centrifuges for a period of 10-15 years. However, after this time passes, Iran will again have the ability to pursue its nuclear program with more advanced centrifuges. Iran simply needs to be patient and it will once again have the ability to enrich uranium.”
The congressman stressed that the UN Security Council resolution that endorsed the deal “poses a threat to the U.S. and to our allies” as it “lifts the ban on conventional arms sales to Iran after five years, and gives Iran the authority to restart its nuclear-capable ballistic missile development program within eight years.”
“These provisions, coupled with a mere delay of Iran’s nuclear program, will give other regional powers a clear window of opportunity to strengthen or create their own weapons programs. As conventional weapons shipments to Iran resume, its neighbors will feel obligated to bolster their own security,” Hastings continued. “All the while, billions of dollars will be injected into the Iranian economy as sanctions are lifted. Some portion of this money is likely to be directed toward state-sponsored terrorist groups, such as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Hezbollah, Houthi and Hamas.”
If a strong sanctions regime is not continued, he added, the U.S. has no leverage.
As other lawmakers have done, Hastings panned the “snap-back” of sanctions as unrealistic.
“This process could take well over two months and is limited to ‘significant’ violations of the deal (the JCPOA fails to define what qualifies as significant). Iran could undermine the agreement in ways that would be nearly impossible to stop,” he wrote. “What’s more troubling, the agreement imposes a process that can take up to 24 days before inspectors gain access to any undeclared nuclear sites discovered in the future. This delay could provide Iran with substantial opportunity to hide any missile or nuclear activity.”
Hastings has told President Obama that, at the very least, if this deal is allowed to go into force there needs to be a high-ranking military official tasked with overseeing implementation and compliance, not bureaucrats.
“I will also introduce legislation on Sept. 8 that authorizes the sitting president or his successors to use military force to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state. Iran’s sincerity in forgoing the procurement of a nuclear weapon makes these steps, in my opinion, an absolute necessity — regardless of how Congress votes.”
This Congress, Hastings has also introduced a bill to defend Israel by defunding Palestinian aid.
Another CBC member, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), told a townhall meeting in Brooklyn on Tuesday that he’s leaning against the deal and would consult further with someone the White House isn’t happy with right now.
“Chuck Schumer is one of the more widely respected members of the Senate, and his opinion is very valuable,” Jeffries said. “I haven’t gotten a chance to talk directly with him, yet – subsequent to him having declared his position. And it’s needless to say that before arriving to a conclusion I will be speaking to the senior senator, because his opinion is something that I value greatly.”