akthrough to foreclose Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon. I’m grateful for the tireless effort by President Obama, Secretary Kerry, Secretary Moniz, Secretary Lew, and Undersecretary Sherman. I appreciate the work of our P5+1 partners in concluding an agreement with Iran.
“But unfortunately, I cannot support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and I plan to oppose the resolution.
“Let me say at the outset, I was troubled that Iran was not asked to stop enriching while we were talking—despite several separate UN Security Council resolutions calling for a pause. And after using this review period to assess the details of the agreement, I’m not convinced that this deal does enough to keep a nuclear weapon out of Iran’s hands.
“I have raised questions and concerns throughout the negotiating phase and review period. The answers I have received simply don’t convince me that this deal will keep a nuclear weapon out of Iran’s hand, and may in fact strengthen Iran’s position as a destabilizing and destructive influence across the Middle East.
“First of all, I don’t believe that this deal gives international inspectors adequate access to undeclared sites. Twenty-four days is far, far too long a time. Iran can stall and in 24 days, they can cover up whatever they have. I’m especially troubled by reports about how the Iranian military base at Parchin will be inspected.
“With these potential roadblocks, IAEA inspectors may be unable to finish their investigation into the potential military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. I don’t think it’s essential that Iran provide a full mea culpa of its past activities, but we should have a clear picture of how far Iran has gotten in developing a nuclear weapon.
“I also view as a dangerous concession the sunset of the international sanctions on advanced conventional weapons and ballistic missiles. I was told that these issues were not on the table during the talks. So it’s unacceptable to me that after five years, Iran can begin buying advanced conventional weapons. After eight years, ballistic missiles. Worse, if Iran were to violate the weakened provisions in this agreement, such an action wouldn’t violate the JCPOA and wouldn’t be subject to snapback sanctions.
“In my view, Iran is a grave threat to international stability. It is the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. It continues to hold American citizens behind bars on bogus charges. And our prisoners still anguish there. We have an agreement. Their release was not part of the agreement. Iran’s actions have made a bad situation in a chaotic region worse.
“Even under the weight of international sanctions these past few years—when Iran had no money, when its currency was worthless, when its economy was in the toilet—Iran found money to support international terror. Iran has been able to support terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and other violent extremists. Awash in new cash provided by sanctions relief, Iran will be poised to inflict even greater damage in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, and our Gulf partners. Iran’s leadership has every interest in shoring up support from hardliners. After all, if a deal goes through, hardliners will need to be placated.
“I can tell you that within the next few years, the next Lebanon war with Israel, Hezbollah will have missiles raining down on Israel. And some of those missiles will be paid for by the windfall that Iran is going to get as a result of sanctions being lifted. I think that’s unacceptable.
“We can have no illusions about what Iran will do with its newfound wealth. We can have no doubt about the malevolent intent of a country’s leader who chants ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’ just days after concluding a deal. The ink wasn’t even dry on the deal, and four days later the Supreme Leader led a chant of ‘Death to America.’ After negotiating with us and agreeing to this agreement, couldn’t even wait more than four days. Back to the same old ‘Death to America.’
“Finally, and very importantly, I have a fundamental concern that 15 years from now, under this agreement, Iran will be free to produce weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium without any limitation. What does that mean? It means Iran will be a legitimized nuclear threshold state after the year 2030, with advanced centrifuges and the ability to stockpile enriched uranium. So in reality, this doesn’t prevent—this agreement does not prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon. It only postpones it.
“If Iran pursues that course, I fear it could spark a nuclear arms race across the region. After years of intransigence, I am simply not confident that Iran will be a more responsible partner.
“Before I finish, I’d also like to say a few words about the debate surrounding this issue so far. We can disagree on the issues. We should debate the details of any important policy such as this one. And we must rely on our democratic institutions to follow us forward as they have for so long. But we cannot question the motives of any Members of Congress, no matter where he or she stands on this issue.
“So instead of using this time to grind a political axe, let’s instead look down the road. After all, we know that this deal is going forward. And when that happens, we need to ask how we can make this agreement stronger.
“How do we ensure the security of Israel and our other friends and allies in the region? How do we keep resources out of the hands of terrorists as sanctions are lifted? What support does Congress need to provide so that the United States and our partners can hold Iran to its word and ultimately keep it from getting a bomb? The time to start answering these questions is now.
“That’s why in the days and weeks ahead, I will reach out to colleagues—Republicans and Democrats alike—to chart a path forward. I will be working with Chairman Royce and others on both sides of the aisle. I will develop new legislation to counter Iran as it dumps its soon-to-be-acquired billions of dollars into terrorist groups and weapons programs. I will work with other lawmakers towards new initiatives that support Israel and our Middle East allies so that they can stand up to an unleashed Iran. And I will work here in Congress, and with the Administration, to make sure the deal is fully implemented—to the letter.
“We need to focus on strengthening our deterrence in the region. And most importantly, we have to work hard to continue to enhance the US-Israel relationship. We must reinvigorate the bipartisan consensus which has been the foundation of the America’s relationship with Israel. And we must ensure that Israel is able to maintain its qualitative military edge and its ability to defend itself.
“The world is watching us this week. The United States is being looked to—not for rhetoric and outrage—but for leadership and resolve. So let’s present our arguments and cast our votes. Then, let’s work together to move forward in a productive way. I appreciate how we’ve worked together on the Foreign Affairs Committee with Chairman Royce. I thank you Mr. Speaker. I reserve the balance of my time.”