No issue is more important to the House Foreign Affairs Committee than preventing the ayatollah from acquiring a nuclear weapon. This month, Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. Congress will be instrumental in pushing back against a bad deal that compromises U.S. national security interests, but we can’t if it isn’t clear what is in the agreement. This bill requires that the president give all the details to Congress and the public so we can debate and judge any agreement on its merits.
The White House vigorously opposed the bill, precisely because it didn’t want the scrutiny. Congress has repeatedly made clear that an acceptable agreement must stop the regime from developing or acquiring a nuclear weapon. That’s a pretty straightforward bottom line. And 367 members of Congress are on record stating that such a deal must last for multiple decades and include full disclosure of the regime’s past efforts to build a nuclear weapon, a dramatic reduction in the number of centrifuges, as well as intrusive inspections and verification measures. Unfortunately, what we have seen of the current framework appears to meet none of these essential conditions.
Even President Barack Obama himself concedes that the regime’s breakout capabilities will dramatically increase as the terms of the agreement expire. In an NPR interview on April 6, the president stated that what is more relevant, as a more relevant fear would be, that in year 13, 14, 15 they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly. At that point, the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.
In announcing its outlines, Mr. Obama declared that this agreement is based on unprecedented verification. However, all of the essential elements of this inspection regime still need to be negotiated. The ink wasn’t even dry on this month’s announcement, and the chants of “Death to America,” led by the supreme leader, were still fresh when he asserted that Tehran wouldn’t allow international inspectors access to its military facilities. The deputy head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps reiterated they will not be even permitted to inspect the most normal military site in their dreams.
The administration has shrugged off such comments as domestic spin, but more and more the regime is claiming that these facilities are off limits. Another key piece of verification includes the regime coming clean on its past bomb work that your organization was key in unearthing. That elementary step still has not happened despite its long-overdue commitment to international inspectors to do so. The IAEA remains concerned about signs of the regime’s military-related activities, including designing a nuclear payload for missiles. The ayatollahs haven’t even begun to address these concerns.
Last fall, over 350 members wrote to the secretary of state expressing deep concerns about the lack of cooperation, yet the framework agreement is vague on this critical verification step. And the administration cannot turn a blind eye to the regime’s destabilizing role in the region for propping up Bashar Assad in Syria, supporting the overthrow of the U.S. partner in Yemen, and supplying rockets to Hamas and Hezbollah. The IRGC is behind much of the turmoil that we see in the region.
Just last week, the House passed the Hezbollah Financing Prevention Act of 2015 that targets the terrorist organization’s diverse financial network and requires the U.S. government to focus on Hezbollah’s global logistics network and its transnational organized criminal enterprises, including its drug smuggling operations.
With your help, we will continue to press the administration to ensure that we do not get a bad deal. And we will continue to confront Islamist extremism throughout the region.
As Maryam Rajavi noted in her recent appearance before Rep. Ted Poe’s subcommittee, Islamist extremism in all instances poses a threat to U.S. national security.
Finally, Congress has been at the forefront of efforts to ensure that the residents of Camp Liberty are protected and treated with respect and dignity and ultimately taken out of harm’s way.
• Mr. Royce is a Republican House member serving California. These remarks were adapted from a videotaped message to the June 13 gathering in Paris.
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