Rep. Michael McCaul: The sun sets on the Iran nuclear deal, but it's a new dawn for Iran
President Trump has withdrawn from the non-binding political commitment with Iran — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal.
Now is the time that we address its fatal flaws and develop a new, lasting solution. A solution that prevents Iranian development and delivery of a nuclear weapon for eternity. A solution that establishes more stringent inspection and verification mechanisms. A solution that supports the economic future of the Iranian people, not the militaristic expansionism of a dangerous regime. And a solution that receives the advice and consent of the U.S. Congress.
Just months after the Iran nuclear deal was negotiated, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declared that Israel would not exist in 25 years. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps soon began major ground offensives in Syria, with thousands of troops leading tens of thousands more Hezbollah and other extremists to protect the war criminal Bashar Assad.
Just a year after the nuclear deal was negotiated, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen fired missiles at a U.S. warship, evoking memories of the USS Cole.
Just two years after the nuclear deal was negotiated, Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists fired a ballistic missile at the Riyadh International Airport in Saudi Arabia.
And now three years into the nuclear deal, Assad’s reign of terror continues, with more than 500,000 people senselessly killed and millions more displaced, all with Iranian support. Iran’s rebel-backed insurgency in Yemen continues to launch missile strikes into Saudi Arabia. And Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah continues to gain political legitimacy in Lebanon.
While Iran’s military continues to expand, the Iranian people’s economic hopes continue to deteriorate. The $150 billion in released assets and the tens of billions of dollars in oil and gas revenue have grown Iran’s military budget by 40 percent since the deal was implemented. At the same time, the Iranian people have seen unemployment grow, with youth unemployment above 20 percent, and prospects for spiraling inflation swelling with a rapidly depreciating currency.
Now, years following the signing of this commitment that President Hassan Rouhani would abandon if it no longer served the interests of Khamenei’s declaration, we have an opportunity to construct a deal that protects the interests of the Iranian people, our allies, and our national interests.
Of course, the clock is ticking on our ability to come to a new deal with our allies in Europe and Iran. Ninety days from now, the U.S. will impose sanctions on Iran’s purchase of U.S. dollars, trade in gold and precious metals, raw materials, and the automotive sector, among other areas. And 180 days from now, additional sanctions, more crippling, will be imposed on Iran’s energy, petrochemical, and financial industries, including the Central Bank of Iran.
Iran had 16 months to come to the table to renegotiate the nuclear deal, and chose not to. Now, they are on a path towards economic and political isolation. This is a position the Iranian regime has come to know throughout its near 40-year history. But it’s not a path they need to continue to follow.
A new path towards the economic, social, and political freedom that the Iranian people are so desperately craving should guide U.S. negotiations moving forward. We must work with our allies in Europe to guide this outcome. In order to achieve this outcome, Iran’s myopic focus on destabilizing malign influence around the world needs to shift toward improving the lives of its people and become an integrated member of the community of nations.
I am hopeful we can achieve this outcome. Iran’s Foreign Minister just this April in New York realized that “billions in military equipment does not mean security.” He called for a new approach to security in the Middle East, one that must move away from the destruction that has ravaged the region, and instead toward one of transformation, with the understanding that “you cannot have security at the expense of insecurity of others.”
However, with Wednesday’s egregious military attack against Israel, Iran’s actions speak louder than their words. And it appears Iran again is prioritizing its military aggression and hegemonic aspirations over the interests of its people.
As the sun sets on the Iran nuclear deal, let’s look towards a new dawn for the Iranian people, a dawn lit by the hopes of freedom, and not the radiation of nuclear ambition.
Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican, represents Texas’ 10th Congressional District. He is the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The op-ed originally appeared in the Washington Examiner, here.