When the House of Representatives reconvenes in September, one of our first priorities will be to address the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
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.
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.
Just last month, the U.N. Security Council agreed to Resolution 2231, endorsing the JCPOA. Among other things, the resolution 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. This poses a threat to the U.S. and to our allies.
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.
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.
We must maintain a strong sanctions regime — to do otherwise is to give up our leverage. Sanctions are what brought Iran to the table, and they depend on large-scale international cooperation and compliance.
Companies from around the world have started lining up to invest in Iran. Should sanctions need to be re-imposed, it is not clear whether investment contracts implemented in the meantime would be voided. Indeed, many nations may no longer feel bound to U.S. sanctions once U.N. and EU-based sanctions are eased.
The provisions of the agreement that allow sanctions to “snap back” are of particular concern. 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.
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.
Earlier this month, I sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to appoint a high-ranking military official to oversee the implementation of the deal, should it enter into force. Iran needs to understand that our commitment to ensuring compliance with this deal would be unwavering.
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.
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings represents Florida’s 20th district, and serves as a Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida delegation.