The coming congressional vote on the Iran nuclear agreement has been called the most important foreign policy vote since the Iraq War. As such, partisan politics have no place when it comes to the national security of the United States.
As a member of both the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Middle East subcommittee, I have participated in numerous hearings and attended classified briefings on this complex issue, including meeting with President Obama in the White House Situation Room. While I greatly admire the tireless work he has put into reaching an agreement, after much thought and consideration, I have concluded that I cannot support this agreement for three main reasons.
First, this agreement will inject at least $56 billion into the Iranian regime. This is a massive sum for a country with a gross domestic product of $400 billion.
What does Iran currently spend its money on? It is the single largest funder of terrorism in the region. It funds Hezbollah in Lebanon, supplying it with more than 80,000 rockets, all located just over the Israeli border. It funds Hamas in Gaza. Remember those thousands of rockets that rained down on Israel last year? They too were courtesy of Iran. And Iran also funds the murderous Assad regime in Syria. Even President Obama has conceded that at least some of the billions of dollars Iran will get will inevitably go toward terror.
The administration’s response on this point is to claim that money shouldn’t be an issue when analyzing the nuclear agreement. But it is part of this agreement. It would be impossible to analyze this deal without weighing the inevitable impact these billions will have on the further funding of terrorism.
Second, the agreement fails to include “anytime, anyplace” inspections. In fact, it gives Iran up to 24 days’ notice before inspections. The administration is correct when it points out that 24 days is not enough time for Iran to cover up a full-blown nuclear program. However, as a former top official at the International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed, 24 days is enough time for Iran to hide most weaponization activity. During a congressional hearing, I asked Secretary of State John Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to dispute this fact. They did not.
Third, the agreement fails to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. It merely delays it. After 15 years, Iran will officially be free to develop not just one bomb, but an entire nuclear arsenal. The whole point of these protracted negotiations was to compel Iran to agree to give up its pursuit of a nuclear bomb. Our side settled for a temporary freeze.
When faced with objections to the agreement, proponents often ask: So what is the alternative? They argue that the deal, as flawed as it may be, is still preferable to no deal. But this is simply not so.
We would be better off with no deal, which would ensure that Iran does not get $56 billion it can use to funnel to Hamas and Hezbollah. While some of the international sanctions would fray if the deal were rejected (especially those from Russia and China), our sanctions would remain. I would much prefer the imperfect status quo over a post-agreement world in which Iran is flush with cash for its terror proxies and free to develop a full-fledged nuclear program in merely 15 years.
Finally, the argument that a vote against this deal is a vote for war is disingenuous. Actually, the opposite is true.
Releasing billions of dollars to Iran will result in more rockets in Lebanon and Gaza. These will be used against Israel, as similar weapons have been for the last seven years. With more cash for more rockets, these attacks will likely happen again, increasing the odds that Israel again will respond militarily. Only this time, the Israeli wars with Lebanon and Gaza will last longer, and there will be higher casualty numbers.
The nuclear agreement with Iran doesn’t make war less likely. It makes war more likely.
Brendan F. Boyle is a Democrat representing the 13th Congressional District, which includes most of Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia
This article was published by the Philadelphia Inquirer and may be found here.