Senator Marco Rubio: President Trump should nix the Iran nuclear deal

President Donald Trump will decide Tuesday whether or not to quit the Iran nuclear deal.  He should not hesitate to nix this flawed and dangerous agreement that is beyond fixing.

The Iran deal is bad—so bad that bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress voted against it due to its many fatal flaws.

The deal’s first major flaw is that it enriched Iran and empowered it to destabilize the Middle East.

The agreement released roughly $100 billion in frozen assets to an Iranian government that the U.S. State Department describes as the “foremost state sponsor of terrorism.”  It also required the U.S., European countries, and the United Nations to relieve key national and multilateral sanctions measures that had economically isolated Iran.

Instead of using the deal’s financial windfall to benefit the Iranian people, Iran’s mullahs aggressively built up their ballistic missile program.

They also used sanctions relief to ramp up their support to Lebanese Hezbollah and other terrorist groups, as well as to militant groups in Iraq and Yemen.  Iran-backed Hezbollah today directly threatens Israel with over 150,000 missiles and rockets based in southern Lebanon, and is also responsible for killing 241 American servicemen in the Beirut marine barracks bombing of October 1983.

Iran’s mullahs also used the deal’s largesse to prop up the Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad, whose regime is responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands, and has repeatedly used chemical weapons against innocent civilians, including women and children.

Proposed “fixes” would do little to nothing to stop Iran’s development of regional-range missiles that can deliver nuclear warheads against U.S. troops in the Middle East, as well as against Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and other U.S. partners.

The deal’s second major flaw is that it paves the path for the Iranian regime—whose leaders have repeatedly vowed to destroy Israel—to eventually get nuclear bombs.

The deal’s modest and temporary limits on Iran’s capabilities to produce weapons-usable nuclear material will disappear in a few years.  President Barack Obama even conceded in an April 2015 interview that a “relevant fear [under the deal] would be that in year 13, 14, 15, [the Iranians] have advanced centrifuges that enriched uranium fairly rapidly, and at the point the breakout times [for building nuclear bombs] would have shrunk to almost zero.”

The agreement also failed to mandate real “anytime, anywhere” inspections on Iran’s nuclear program.  In particular, the Iranian regime has adamantly refused demands to allow unfettered inspections at its military sites—including the Parchin military complex, where inspectors previously found man-made uranium particles.

Absent a truly intrusive inspection system designed to find any undeclared activities, the danger remains that Iran could continue hidden nuclear weapons-related efforts even under the deal.

That danger became more real after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed last week that his government had obtained Iran’s secret “atomic archive”—over 55,000 documents and other materials that detail first-hand the regime’s vast covert efforts to develop nuclear weapons know-how and ballistic missiles.

This archive—which Israel spirited out of Iran in a stunning intelligence operation—apparently reveals the scope and scale of the Iranian regime’s secret efforts to master nuclear weaponization, especially for the day when the nuclear deal’s modest limits expire.

Perhaps the nuclear deal’s most unforgivable flaw is that its original architects chose to stand with and empower Iran’s mullahs over the Iranian people, whose opposition to their corrupt and criminal government continues to grow.

The massive protests that erupted throughout Iran in December 2017 and January 2018 may have surprised the Iranian regime and its allies.  But the protests did not surprise everyday Iranians who, despite the government’s ongoing crackdowns, still find ways to show dissatisfaction, including the widespread movement of brave Iranian women who risk violent reprisals for publicly refusing to wear hijabs.

Some Trump administration officials have sought to negotiate with our European partners for a possible “fix” to the Iran deal.  But the problem is that proposed “fixes” fail to deal fully with the agreement’s most serious flaws.

Proposed “fixes” would do little to nothing to stop Iran’s development of regional-range missiles that can deliver nuclear warheads against U.S. troops in the Middle East, as well as against Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and other U.S. partners.  Nor would they impose true “anywhere, anytime” inspections on Iran or mandate the regime to come clean on all nuclear activities.

President Trump should nix the flawed Iran deal and impose crippling economic and financial sanctions against the Iranian regime.  The American people deserve better than a bad deal that paves the Iranian terror regime’s path to nuclear weapons.  And the Iranian people deserve better as they continue to suffer under the regime’s criminal corruption, economic mismanagement, support for terrorists and the Assad regime, ballistic missile aggression, and systemic human rights abuses.

Republican Marco Rubio represents Florida in the U.S. Senate. He is a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on Foreign Relations. He was a candidate for president in 2016.