Royce objects to Obama's Iran position
Orange County Register -- By ELIZABETH HELD
WASHINGTON – Rep. Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs committee, told the Register Tuesday that he’s concerned the U.S. will make the same mistakes with Iran as it did with North Korea, and allow the country to develop a nuclear weapon.
Royce’s comments came hours after President Barack Obama's speech at the United Nations, where the president said that Iran's nuclear ambitions would be a top diplomatic focus for the United States. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has raised the possibility of beginning negotiations with Obama over that country's nuclear program and the sanctions foreign countries have imposed in response to it.
But Royce doesn’t believe the Iranians are seriously interested in ending their nuclear program. Rather, he said, they’re using the same tactics North Korea used in the mid-2000s, when the sanctions against the country were lifted during negotiations. North Korea then dragged out negotiations until it built nuclear weapons.
“When the North Koreans were able to finish their nuclear program,” Royce said, “the Iranians realized the same tactic could be used with the Europeans and the Americans.”
Royce said that Rouhani has a history of misleading Western countries in nuclear negotiations. Rouhani previously served as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, and has said he strung out the negotiation process so Iran could continue building its centrifuges. He had never intended to come to the bargaining table.
“U.S. policy makers need to be aware of the fact that in the past he has made these statements that he can outwit the West and develop nuclear weapons capability,” Royce said.
Royce is concerned that Rouhani may be doing the same thing now.
Royce spoke with both Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry about the situation in Iran.
Kerry, Royce said, expressed interest in extending an “olive branch” to Iran.
Royce, though, has suggested a different plan for negotiations with Iran. He believes Rouhani should be given 100 days from when he took office on Aug. 3 to stop Iran’s nuclear program. At that point, Royce said, “Congress will look at if he’s actually stopped the centrifuges from spinning and the nuclear program from continuing.” If the nuclear program has stopped, then the U.S. can discuss lifting sanctions.
But, if the country makes no progress, he said, the Senate should pass the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, which the House passed 400-20 in July. The legislation, sponsored by Royce, would make it difficult for Iran to sell oil in the world market.
“The choice is between the Ayatollah’s cooperating on ending the nuclear program or us imploding their economy,” he said.