Senate Begins Debate on President Obama’s Iranian Nuclear Agreement

‘In short, by almost any measure, we know that Iran will emerge stronger from this deal in nearly every aspect of its national power and better positioned to expand its sphere of influence.’

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the President’s deal with Iran:

“Today we will begin consideration of the resolution to disapprove the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiated by China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the United States, which seeks to constrain Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

“I will ask all Senators to be present in the chamber beginning tomorrow afternoon to commence debate on this issue.

“Let me extend my appreciation for the time and research many of our colleagues have given to understanding the details, the strengths, and the weaknesses of this agreement.

“For many, this has been a difficult decision.

“For some, it was made even more difficult by assertions from the Administration that the only choice was between this agreement and war.

“Of course that was never true.

“All that such political statements really say is that the administration lacks the will and the leadership to pursue a stronger agreement, additional sanctions, and policies intended to end Iran’s enrichment program if it cannot attain congressional agreement on the President’s deal with Iran.

“The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act passed the Senate by a vote of 98 to 1 earlier this year. It provided each of us with the opportunity to truly represent our constituents on this issue.

“I expect that every Senator who voted for that measure is now entitled to an up or down vote — not a filibuster or artificial limits on passage, but an important vote — on this resolution.
“Along with the Americans we were sent there to represent, countries, businesses, and proliferation networks seeking to expand ties with Iran stand to have simple question answered: Does the Senate disapprove of this deal with Iran? The Senate should not hide behind procedural obfuscation to shield the President or our individual views.

“This debate should not be about a President who will leave office in 16 months. It should be about where our country will be in 16 years.

“The Minority Leader has said that his party strove ‘to preserve the Corker-Cardin bill,’ and that it was ‘incumbent on Congress to review this agreement with the thoughtful, level-headed process an agreement of this magnitude deserves.’

“I agree that that’s exactly what’s needed now. I know that that’s exactly what nearly every Senator in this body voted for. And I call on every Senator to resist attempts to obstruct a final vote and deny the American people and Congress the say they deserve on this important issue.

“The facts have already led many of our Democratic colleagues – including the top Democrats on the foreign affairs committees in both the House and Senate, as well as the presumptive leader of the party in the Senate – to come out in opposition to it. I know these were not easy decisions for them.

“But these Democrats are joined in their skepticism by Americans of every political persuasion who believe this deal will make our country less safe. Even those lawmakers that have come out in favor of the President’s agreement use terms like ‘deeply flawed’ to describe it.

“Let us remember why that is.

“The American people were led to believe that negotiations with Iran would be about ending its nuclear program. But that’s not what the deal before us would do.

“We know that the President’s deal with Iran will not end its nuclear program, but would instead leave Iran with a threshold nuclear capability recognized as legitimate by the international community — quite the opposite of the original goal.

“We know that the President’s deal with Iran will leave it with thousands of centrifuges, an advanced research and development program, and access to billions of dollars — at least some of which the President himself has acknowledged would be used to support terrorism.

“We know the President’s deal with Iran will allow it to further ballistic missile research and strengthen its economy.

“In short, by almost any measure, we know that Iran will emerge stronger from this deal in nearly every aspect of its national power and better positioned to expand its sphere of influence.

“The Iranian nuclear program was never intended to produce nuclear energy for peaceful, civilian purposes. Certainly Iran does not need an underground enrichment facility for those purposes, or long-range ballistic missiles. Iran has employed every aspect of national power to defend the regime and the Islamic revolution to include support for terrorism, unconventional warfare, public diplomacy, cyber warfare, suppression of internal dissent, and of course support for proxies and terrorist groups.
“We already know that Iran has undertaken many activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device. As the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed in a November 2011 report, it has attempted to:

“Procure nuclear-related equipment and materials through individuals and entities related to the military.

“Develop pathways for the production of nuclear material.

“Acquire nuclear weapons development information and documentation from a clandestine nuclear supply network.

“And develop an indigenous design of a nuclear weapon, as well as test components.

“Moreover, as Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz recently observed, ‘The final stages of the nuclear talks have coincided with Iran’s intensified efforts to expand and entrench its power in neighboring states.’

“‘Iranian or Iranian client forces are now the pre-eminent military or political element in multiple Arab countries,’ they warned. ‘Unless political restraint is linked to nuclear restraint, an agreement freeing Iran from sanctions risks empowering Iran’s hegemonic efforts.’

“I will have more to say later in the week concerning my opposition to this agreement. And I expect that every Senator will wish to explain his or her respective vote.

“But I would ask every Senator to keep this in mind as well. The President has said that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal.’ And while he will be out of office in a few short months, the rest of the country and the world will have to deal with the predictable consequences of his deal for far longer.

“If lawmakers determine that this deal is indeed a bad one, then they have a duty to vote that way. We can work together to prepare suitable sanctions legislation and other measures required to maintain our capabilities to deal with the threat from Iran.

“But no matter what, we should conduct a respectful and serious debate that’s consistent with the serious ramifications of this agreement.”

Related Issues: Iran Nuclear Deal, Iran