Friday, September 4, 2015

Flake and McSally Need to Rethink Their Positions on the Iran Nuclear Deal

Posted By on Fri, Sep 4, 2015 at 2:43 PM

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Two Arizona members of Congress, Senator Jeff Flake and Representative Martha McSally appeared at one point to be on the fence regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or Iran nuclear deal, but have since come out against the agreement. Their reasoning is questionable at best and they should rethink their positions and vote YES.

Starting with Senator Flake, he states many aspects of the deal are good. He seems to agree with what former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown said about verification, namely, “compared with past agreements with the then more threatening adversary the Soviet Union, the provisions for oversight are remarkably more intrusive and capable.” However, the Senator cannot support it because the administration will “forfeit its ability to impose sanctions on Iran for behavior on the non-nuclear side.” In a study conducted by sanctions legal expert Tyler Cullis “nothing could be further from the truth.” There are significant sanctions currently in effect regarding Iran terrorist activities in the region and its human right abuses towards its own people and they will not go away because of the JCPOA.

Additionally, the President retains the ability to impose significant sanctions if he believes doing so lies in U.S. interests. These include but are not limited to sanctions on Iranians involved with acts of terrorism, including providing financial assistance to Hamas or Hezbollah; on Iranians who have provided support "to large parts of the Syrian Government"; to withhold visas and assets of individuals responsible for human rights abuses of Iranian citizens; the ability to disrupt computer networks of the Iranian government that are used to commit human rights abuses; and sanctions against persons who "materially contribute to the proliferation of WMD or their means of delivery, including missiles.” Senator Flake's rationale is without merit.

Representative McSally's premise starts on the wrong foot by saying Obama's stated goal was “to dismantle their nuclear infrastructure” and has failed in doing so. Such was never the intention in that Iran is a signee of the Non Proliferation Treaty and as therefore has the right to have a nuclear infrastructure to enrich uranium to be used for peaceful purposes. However, clearly the P 5+1 has greatly reduced the capability of Iran's current nuclear facilities to a point where producing fissile material to make a bomb is untenable for years to come. Like Senator Flake, she seems fixated on Iran's non-nuclear misbehavior, particularly regarding Israel and Hezbollah/Hamas, which really is beside the point when negotiating a deal to reduce the threat of Iran obtaining a nuclear bomb, Obama's stated goal. She is concerned about the lifting of the embargo on arms and missiles after five and eight years respectively, missing the point that this extension was a negotiated victory for the U.S. given that Iran, China and Russia wanted it lifted immediately. Moreover, even after restrictions are lifted, Iran would still be subject to re-imposition under UN Security Council Resolution 2231 “in the event of significant non-performance by Iran of its JCPOA commitments...” Her solution is returning to the negotiating table, but offers no recommendations as to how to improve the agreement other than reverting back to sanctions that have not deterred Iran in advancing towards a bomb. Outside of Republicans and Israel the world is essentially in favor of the JCPOA and she and Senator Flake seem willing to jeopardize our standing with our allies when we will need them in the future to join us in solving other issues. Our isolation is not a good long term foreign policy strategy. To prove this is not a partisan issue as she claims, it would be wonderful if she and Senator Flake would be the only two Republicans to vote YES on the JCPOA because it makes far more sense to suport the Iranian nuclear deal than oppose it.

Phineas Anderson, former head of Green Fields Country Day School in Tucson, has worked on nuclear weapons issues for more than 30 years. He helped produce the 2010 film Nuclear Tipping Point, introduced by General Colin Powell, narrated by Michael Douglas and includes Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, Senator Sam Nunn and Secretary of Defense William Perry as they argue that nuclear weapons are not longer an asset to our military arsenal.

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