Today marks one year since Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif agreed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). On this date, we ought to take the opportunity not to re-litigate that “political commitment,” but evaluate whether it has helped protect the United States, our people, and our interests. Unfortunately for our country’s future, the answer to that inquiry is a resounding no. As a result, Congress must act to change Iranian behavior, and, ultimately, the Iranian regime.
The JCPOA can perhaps delay Iran’s nuclear weapons program for a few years. Conversely, it has virtually guaranteed that Iran will have the freedom to build an arsenal of nuclear weapons at the end of the commitment. Further, in the past year, the Islamic Republic of Iran has launched multiple ballistic missiles – testing increasingly complex and longer range missiles. It has grown its support of terrorist groups, and it continues to take hostages. The deal has, in fact, made our country less safe.
Every year since 1984, the U.S. State Department has designated Iran a state sponsor of terrorism, a finding the Department renewed again last month. Yet the Obama administration still holds out that its political commitment, drafted by a few bureaucrats committed to getting a deal at any cost, can change decades of Iran’s entrenched and militant commitment to “death to America.” As a result of the billions of dollars flowing into Iran after the JCPOA, the Iranian regime is able to increase its support to terrorist group groups like Hezbollah. That group’s chief said recently that “Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
While Congress still awaits answers on whether the U.S. paid $1.7 billion in taxpayer dollars to free five Americans that Iran was holding hostage, the Iranian regime continues to capture and hold new hostages, including Americans. In March, Iran abducted a French woman. In April, Iran apprehended a British mother. A few weeks later, Iran arrested a Dutch broadcaster. In June, Iranian authorities detained a female Canadian professor. I fear what July will bring.
One year on, the region is far less stable as well. Iran increasingly controls Baghdad, Damascus, Sanaa, and Beirut. Terror attacks have increased. While the deal itself is problematic, also devastating is the fact that America is no longer viewed as a reliable partner to our traditional regional allies.
Unfortunately, instead of standing up to Iran, the Obama administration is giving in to the Iranians’ bizarre tantrums and illogical arguments. The Iranian regime is continuously threatening to walk away from the deal. They have thus co-opted the U.S. Secretary of State into acting as Iran’s Minister of Economic Development. Even Secretary Kerry admits he is going far above what is included in the deal: “I have personally gone beyond the absolute requirements of the lifting of sanctions to personally engage with banks and businesses and others.” The Iranian regime remains unchanged; we do not need to be dragged into lobbying for them.
As a member of Congress, I am part of a large group of elected officials who remain clear-eyed about the threat emanating from Tehran. With legislation, we are pushing back on the Obama administration, most recently its intent to purchase nuclear material from Iran, specifically 32 tons of heavy water. I have introduced a bill to block the $8.6 million purchase and any future purchase.
In the Obama administration’s last months in office, it can stop acquiescing to the Iranians. It can do what is best for the U.S. and walk away from this deal. Either way, this November, Americans have the chance to choose elected officials at many levels of government, including voting for or against many representatives who supported the Iran nuclear deal. Fortunately, there is much bipartisan agreement on the danger Iran poses to American interests. Even former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said: “if I’m president, we will attack Iran…we would be able to totally obliterate them” in retaliation against an Iranian nuclear strike on Israel—a goal, at least rhetorically, of the current Iranian regime. Let us hope we can reverse course before it gets to this.
Pompeo serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Select Committee on Benghazi. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and of Harvard Law School, an Army veteran, and ran two small businesses before joining Congress in 2011.