Macon Telegraph: Why I’m voting against Obama’s nuclear Iran deal

By:  Senator David Perdue

In the coming days, the Senate will consider President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. I will vote against this dangerous agreement.

History provides a recent example of how a bad deal can lead to dangerous consequences. In 1994, then President Bill Clinton made similar lofty promises about his Agreed Framework with North Korea, saying, “This agreement will help to achieve a long-standing and vital American objective: an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula.” Just 12 years later, North Korea completed its first nuclear detonation test.

While the two deals have their differences, I fear President Obama’s nuclear deal places the U.S. on a similar path with Iran. President Obama and Secretary John Kerry repeatedly said, “No deal is better than a bad deal.” I couldn’t agree more. When you look at the facts, it is clear this deal is not good for America, our allies or global security.

Negotiations cede to Iran the right to enrich uranium. This overturns decades of U.S. nonproliferation and no fewer than six U.N. Security Council Resolutions. It also legitimizes the nuclear program of a pariah proliferator. Domestic enrichment is not necessary for a peaceful, civil nuclear program. Currently, there are five nations with peaceful energy programs and domestic enrichment, but no weapons: Argentina, Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan. There are 18 nations with peaceful nuclear programs, but no enrichment. Yet, this deal treats Iran — a rogue regime — like a good actor and entrusts them with domestic enrichment.

Restrictions on Iran’s nuclear and missile programs are lifted step by step. This deal lifts the U.N. arms embargo on Iran in five years and the ballistic missile embargo in eight years. Restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities are gradually lifted over the next 8.5 to 15 years. Iran’s breakout time shrinks to nearly zero between years 13 and 15.

Iran receives upwards of $60 billion in sanctions relief up front. Instead of meeting certain benchmarks for financial relief, Iran’s rewards are front-loaded. This essentially gives the country a “signing bonus” and shields Iran’s economy from any future punitive “snapback” sanctions. President Obama’s sanction relief is so dramatic economists estimate Iran’s economy will grow up to 9 percent in the year after implementation. Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, a chief backer of the murderous Assad regime in Syria, and a key contributor to regional instability. Imagine how far these funds could go in the hands of Iran’s brutal and oppressive regime.

Iran self-inspects its own nuclear and military sites. While the Obama administration hails “unprecedented” inspections, in reality, this deal allows Iran to self-inspect and no American inspectors will be allowed on the ground. Instead, Iranians, observed by surveillance cameras, will conduct their own oversight. This arrangement is extremely lenient for a nation that developed the Fordow nuclear facility in secret, despite having IAEA teams on the ground for years.

This deal leads to a nuclear Iran and a potential arms race. President Obama claims this deal “permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” Not only does this deal fail to preclude Iran from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon, it legitimizes Iran’s illicit enrichment program and all but guarantees a nuclear Iran in a little over a decade. More troubling, this deal will ignite a conventional and nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Instead of making the world a safer place, this deal makes the world more volatile.

Now, President Obama presents the American people with a false choice: accept this bad deal, or go to war. That’s simply not the case. In fact, this deal makes military conflict more likely in the future by diluting the power of American-led sanctions on Iran, leaving the world with fewer options to respond to cheating. Meanwhile, the majority of United Nations and European Union sanctions will be lifted later this year.

There are alternatives to accepting this bad deal. Congress can, and should, reject this deal. If Iran refuses to return to the negotiating table, we can double down on sanctions. We can give the world a choice: do business with the United States, or with Iran. I refuse to accept a bad deal with Iran particularly when all options have not been exhausted. We certainly cannot afford another disaster like North Korea. Yet, this deal sends a dangerous message to Iran and other potential proliferators: cheat and be rewarded.

That is not what Georgians or the American people want. This fight is not over, and as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will continue to urge my colleagues to reject this dangerous deal and stop a nuclear Iran now.

Sen. David Perdue is the junior senator from Georgia.