Congressman Sherman to Oppose Iran Deal
Washington D.C. – The House Foreign Affairs Committee, which is the “Committee of Jurisdiction,” will consider a Resolution of Disapproval of the Iran Nuclear Agreement next month. Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), who is the second Ranking Democrat on the Committee, released the following statement:
For 19 years, I have focused on preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Since November of 2013, I have been briefed at every stage of the negotiations. For the last week, I stayed in Washington to devote myself to studying this Agreement. I met one-on-one with the President at length, and had numerous meetings and phone conversations with Secretaries Kerry and Moniz, and received classified briefings from our chief negotiator in Vienna and experts from the intelligence community and the Department of Energy.
This Agreement is the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It contains the good and the bad in the first year, and gets ugly in the years thereafter. The Good: Iran gives up 97% of its stockpile of enriched uranium and decommissions 2/3 of its existing centrifuges. The Bad: Iran gets access to at least $56 billion of its own currently-frozen funds, and free access to the international oil markets. The Ugly: In 15 years or less, Iran is permitted to have an unlimited quantity of centrifuges of unlimited quality, as well as heavy water reactors and reprocessing facilities.
I might be willing to accept the good with the bad during the first year of the Agreement. But we must force modifications of the Agreement, and extensions of its nuclear restrictions, before it gets ugly. My efforts have one purpose: Make it clear that future Presidents and Congresses are not bound by this Agreement—not legally, not morally, not diplomatically.
Under International Law and the U.S. Constitution, the Agreement is a mere “executive political agreement” and is not binding on America, Europe or Iran. However, if the Agreement was not only signed by the President, but also supported by Congress, it may appear binding. Appearances matter. In future years, many would argue as long as Iran appears to be complying with the Agreement, America cannot insist on modifications or extensions of nuclear restrictions. A strong Congressional vote against the Agreement is the best way to make it clear that the Agreement is not binding on Congress, the American people or future administrations.
I appreciate the incredible efforts President Obama and his Administration have made to address the threat of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. This President has worked far harder, taken more diplomatic and political risks, and accomplished far more than the previous administration. As someone who has fought since 1997 for tough sanctions against Iran to address the threat it poses to our country, and as someone who strongly supports our deep relationship with Israel, I am grateful that the Obama Administration has made Iran a high priority at a time when there are so many foreign policy and economic issues facing our country.
I also have serious concerns with many other aspects of the Agreement including: the 24 day wait before suspicious sites are inspected; the very limited inspection regime at Bushehr and at the unlimited number of future light water nuclear reactors Iran may construct; and the fact that the Agreement provides Iran with all the funds it will need, should it choose to purchase nuclear weapons (or fissile material) from North Korea. The Agreement does not contain any provisions helping us to monitor shipments or financial transactions between Iran and North Korea.
As we focus on Iran’s nuclear program, we cannot ignore Iran’s support for the brutally murderous regime in Syria that is killing thousands of people every month. Nor can we ignore their support for terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, and Hamas and the Houthi rebels. Nor can we forget about the four American hostages Iran is holding. No matter what the status of the nuclear Agreement, Congress must adopt sanctions designed to force Iran to change its “non-nuclear” behavior—to stop supporting Assad and terrorist groups, and to free the American hostages. Next month I will introduce legislation to impose sanctions on Iran designed to change its non-nuclear behavior.
As to legislative specifics, I will vote for the Royce Resolution, H.J.Res. 64. Previously, I had urged opponents of the Agreement to pursue a different procedural strategy. It is now clear that Democratic and Republican opponents of the Agreement have united behind Royce’s procedural approach, and I will join them.
The President reminds us that many prominent critics of the Agreement supported the invasion of Iraq. It should be noted that many supporters of the Agreement also supported the invasion of Iraq, including: Vice President Biden, Secretary Kerry and Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.