McConnell Statement on Interim Iran Nuke Agreement

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement today regarding the interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear program:

“Last week I led a Senate delegation to Israel, Jordan, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Iran’s support of Hezbollah, the Assad regime, Shia militias in Iraq, Houthi insurgents in Yemen – along with its ongoing nuclear ambitions – reveal an ongoing effort to both expand the Iranian sphere of influence throughout the greater Middle East and undermine America’s standing and presence in the region. These issues, along with Iran’s determination to expand its ballistic missile and conventional military capability, are of grave concern to me; moreover, the concerns of our allies and partners were raised throughout our visits.

“Despite these concerns, the Obama administration announced an interim agreement with Iran concerning an international recognition of Iran’s threshold nuclear capability.

“To the detriment of international security--specifically regarding the security of the United States, Israel and other allies, as well as preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East--the Obama administration has always approached the goal of these negotiations as reaching the best deal that is acceptable to Iran, rather than what should be our national goal: ending Iran's nuclear program.

“In initially reviewing the parameters of the interim agreement, several things are obvious: Iran will continue to enrich uranium and retain more than 6,000 centrifuges, and continue the research and development of more advanced centrifuges. Under no terms should the administration suspend sanctions, nor should the United Nations remove sanctions until the Iranians reveal all aspects of the Possible Military Dimensions of its previous research.

“The parameters of the interim deal, in essence, establish an internationally recognized, 10-year nuclear research and development program. Until we know more about Iran's previous research, no nation can be sure of what Iran may have developed covertly already. The choice is not between recognizing Iran as a threshold nuclear state or going to war. Instead the administration should have made clear to the Iranians that additional sanctions and a credible military threat awaited further delay and intransigence.

“Further, we cannot forget that Iran is pursuing a full-spectrum campaign to expand its sphere of influence in the greater Middle East. America and its allies will need to be vigilant in combating all of Iran's other belligerent actions as it uses the funding that would be derived from sanctions relief to support proxy forces and advance its stockpile of missiles.

“The administration needs to explain to the Congress and the American people why an interim agreement should result in reduced pressure on the world's leading state sponsor of terror. The Senate will review these parameters more thoroughly, and respond legislatively with the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which is scheduled to be reported out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week.”

Related Issues: Iraq, Iran Nuclear Deal, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan