“The issue before the Congress in September is whether to vote to approve or disapprove the agreement struck by the President and our P5+1 partners with Iran. This is one of the most serious national security, nuclear nonproliferation, arms control issues of our time. It is not an issue of supporting or opposing the President. This issue is much greater and graver than that.
“For me, I have come to my decision after countless hours in hearings, classified briefings, and hours-and-hours of serious discussion and thorough analysis. I start my analysis with the question: Why does Iran — which has the world’s fourth largest proven oil reserves, with 157 billion barrels of crude oil and the world’s second largest proven natural gas reserves with 1,193 trillion cubic feet of natural gas — need nuclear power for domestic energy?
“We know that despite the fact that Iran claims their nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, they have violated the international will, as expressed by various U.N. Security Council Resolutions, and by deceit, deception and delay advanced their program to the point of being a threshold nuclear state. It is because of these facts, and the fact that the world believes that Iran was weaponizing its nuclear program at the Parchin Military Base — as well as developing a covert uranium enrichment facility in Fordow, built deep inside of a mountain, raising serious doubts about the peaceful nature of their civilian program, and their sponsorship of state terrorism — that the world united against Iran’s nuclear program.
“In that context, let’s remind ourselves of the stated purpose of our negotiations with Iran: Simply put, it was to dismantle all — or significant parts — of Iran’s illicit nuclear infrastructure to ensure that it would not have nuclear weapons capability at any time. Not shrink its infrastructure. Not limit it. But fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons capability.
“We said we would accommodate Iran’s practical national needs, but not leave the region — and the world — facing the threat of a nuclear armed Iran at a time of its choosing. In essence, we thought the agreement would be roll-back-for-roll-back: you roll-back your infrastructure and we’ll roll-back our sanctions.
“At the end of the day, what we appear to have is a roll-back of sanctions and Iran only limiting its capability, but not dismantling it or rolling it back. What do we get? We get an alarm bell should they decide to violate their commitments, and a system for inspections to verify their compliance. That, in my view, is a far cry from ‘dismantling.’
“I recall in the early days of the Administration’s overtures to Iran, asking Secretary of State, John Kerry, at a meeting of Senators, about dismantling Arak, Iran’s plutonium reactor. His response was swift and certain. He said: ‘They will either dismantle it or we will destroy it.’
“I remember that our understanding was that the Fordow facility was to be closed – that it was not necessary for a peaceful civilian nuclear program to have an underground enrichment facility. That the Iranians would have to come absolutely clean about their weaponization activities at Parchin and agree to promise anytime anywhere inspections.
“We now know all of that fell by the wayside. But what we cannot dismiss is that we have now abandoned our long-held policy of preventing nuclear proliferation and are now embarked – not on preventing nuclear proliferation – but on managing or containing it — which leaves us with a far less desirable, less secure, and less certain world order. So, I am deeply concerned that this is a significant shift in our nonproliferation policy, and about what it will mean in terms of a potential arms race in an already dangerous region.
“While I have many specific concerns about this agreement, my overarching concern is that it requires no dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and only mothballs that infrastructure for 10 years. Not even one centrifuge will be destroyed under this agreement. Fordow will be repurposed, and Arak redesigned.
“The fact is — everyone needs to understand what this agreement does and does not do so that they can determine whether providing Iran permanent relief in exchange for short-term promises is a fair trade.
“This deal does not require Iran to destroy or fully decommission a single uranium enrichment centrifuge. In fact, over half of Iran’s currently operating centrifuges will continue to spin at its Natanz facility. The remainder, including more than 5,000 operating centrifuges and nearly 10,000 not yet functioning, will merely be disconnected and transferred to another hall at Natanz, where they could be quickly reinstalled to enrich uranium.
“And yet we, along with our allies, have agreed to lift the sanctions and allow billions of dollars to flow back into Iran’s economy. We lift sanctions, but — even during the first 10 years of the agreement — Iran will be allowed to continue R&D activity on a range of centrifuges – allowing them to improve their effectiveness over the course of the agreement.
“Clearly, the question is: What do we get from this agreement in terms of what we originally sought? We lift sanctions, and — at year eight — Iran can actually start manufacturing and testing advanced IR-6 and IR-8 centrifuges that enrich up to 15 times the speed of its current models. At year 15, Iran can start enriching uranium beyond 3.67 percent – the level at which we become concerned about fissile material for a bomb. At year 15, Iran will have NO limits on its uranium stockpile.
“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.
“It will, in the long run, make it much harder to demonstrate that Iran’s program is not in fact being used for peaceful purposes because Iran will have legitimate reasons to have advanced centrifuges and a robust enrichment program. We will then have to demonstrate that its intention is dual-use and not justified by its industrial nuclear power program.
…“For me, the administration’s willingness to forgo a critical element of Iran’s weaponization — past and present — is inexplicable. Our willingness to accept this process on Parchin is only exacerbated by the inability to obtain anytime, anywhere inspections, which the Administration always held out as one of those essential elements we would insist on and could rely on in any deal. Instead, we have a dispute resolution mechanism that shifts the burden of proof to the U.S. and its partners, to provide sensitive intelligence, possibly revealing our sources and the methods by which we collected the information and allow the Iranians to delay access for nearly a month, a delay that would allow them to remove evidence of a violation, particularly when it comes to centrifuge research-and-development, and weaponization efforts that can be easily hidden and would leave little or no signatures.
“The Administration suggests that — other than Iraq — no country was subjected to anytime, anywhere inspections. But Iran’s defiance of the world’s position, as recognized in a series of U.N. Security Council Resolutions, does not make it ‘any other country.’ It is their violations of the NPT and the Security Council Resolutions that created the necessity for a unique regime and for anytime, anywhere inspections.
…“President Obama continues to erroneously say that this agreement permanently stops Iran from having a nuclear bomb. Let’s be clear, what the agreement does is to recommit Iran not to pursue a nuclear bomb, a promise they have already violated in the past. It recommits them to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), an agreement they have already violated in the past. It commits them to a new Security Council Resolution outlining their obligations, but they have violated those in the past as well.
…“I have looked into my own soul and my devotion to principle may once again lead me to an unpopular course, but if Iran is to acquire a nuclear bomb, it will not have my name on it.
“It is for these reasons that I will vote to disapprove the agreement and, if called upon, would vote to override a veto.
I know I excerpted a lot but read the whole thing; it really is a matter of life or death for millions.
Oh hey, and about the whole “robust inspection’ thingy that Obama and Lurch keep touting as the reason we can be confident that Our Betters in the White House have made such a good deal here…um, well it seems that in the spirit of “You Have To Pass It To Know What’s In It” one of these Secret Side Deals allows the Iranians to inspect themselves.
Let that sink in.
So Senator Menendez, I am proud to say that you are my Senator.