Video of the speech is available here.
Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley
Iran Nuclear Agreement Resolution
Thursday September 10, 2015
This is a critically important debate on a nuclear deal that will have long-lasting impacts on our national security and the security of our friends and allies.
This debate is happening because ninety-eight Senators expressed the desire to have a say on this agreement.
This process will allow the American people to speak through their elected representatives, and I can say, the American people overwhelming oppose this deal.
New public opinion polls released in just the last few days indicate that Americans in general are opposed to this deal by a margin of 2 to 1. Only 21 percent support this deal.
I participated in meetings with constituents in twenty-five of Iowa’s counties during the August work period.
The message I received was overwhelming in opposition to this deal.
That’s the same message I’m hearing from Iowans who have written or called since the deal was announced in July.
After many weeks of studying the terms of the Iranian deal, hearing from experts, attending classified briefings and engaging in dialogue with my constituents, my initial skepticisms have been confirmed.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the deal presented to us is a bad deal that will not increase our national security or the security of our friends and allies, and it should be rejected.
The United States began the negotiations from a position of real strength. The international sanctions were hurting Iran and it wanted out from under them.
The sanctions regime that Congress put in place, over the objections of President Obama, drove Iran to the negotiating table.
The Administration, leading up to negotiations and throughout the process, outlined the conditions for a good deal.
President Obama and Secretary Kerry both made important statements about the goal of the negotiations – the goal was to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program.
Secretary Kerry himself said, in the fall of 2013, that Iran has “no right to enrich” and that a good deal with Iran would “help Iran dismantle its nuclear program.”
Despite assurances that the deal would include “anytime, anywhere” inspections, the deal falls short.
President Obama negotiated away from these positions over the course of the negotiations.
This deal accepts and legitimizes Iran as a nuclear threshold state.
Iran will not dismantle many important parts of its uranium enrichment infrastructure, contrary to past U.S. policy that Iran not be allowed to enrich.
And, Iran is permitted to continue a vast research and development program.
Many of the significant limitations expire after ten years, leaving Iran an internationally legitimate nuclear program.
Iran could fully abide by this deal and be a nuclear threshold state. This is all contrary to the initial goal Obama announced.
With regard to inspections, international inspectors will not have “anytime, anywhere” access – they will have “managed access.”
In fact, the deal provides Iran with a 24-day process to further delay and hide prohibited activities.
Iran has a track record of cheating on past agreements, and this deal allows Iran to stonewall the inspectors for up to 24 days.
The deal also includes side agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency that we can’t review and even the Administration has not seen.
The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which passed the Senate 98-1, requires the Administration to provide to Congress access to all “annexes, appendices, codicils, side agreements, implementing materials, documents, and guidance, technical or other understandings and any related agreements" as part of the deal.
It seems in this case we’re being asked to put our faith in the Iranian regime to not cheat.
Iran has not provided details on the past military dimensions of its nuclear program, even though the U.S. position was that Iran had to come clean about that history before any sanctions relief.
It’s critical for a robust verification regime to work, that the IAEA have a full accounting of Iran’s past efforts and stockpiles.
Yet, it appears that Iran will be allowed to supervise itself by conducting its own inspections and collect samples at the secretive military facility in Parchin, where much of the military dimensions of its nuclear program had been carried out.
I also oppose the last-minute decision to lift the embargo on conventional arms and ballistic missiles.
General Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in July that “we should under no circumstances relieve pressure on Iran relative to ballistic missile capabilities and arms trafficking.”
But, under this agreement, after just five years the conventional arms embargo will be lifted. After just eight years, the ballistic missile embargo will be lifted.
Iran has long sought the technology to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles, which would be a direct threat to the U.S. and our allies.
And Iran’s past arms trafficking to Hezbollah, Hamas and others has long threatened Israel, other Middle East allies and stability in the region.
Once Iran has complied with the initial restraints on its nuclear program, many sanctions will be lifted. This will release somewhere around $100 billion of frozen Iranian assets.
The lifting of sanctions and release of these funds will only exacerbate Iran’s support for terror, with Iran having access to tens of billions of frozen assets to bolster its conventional military and further support terrorism.
Even Obama Administration officials have said that Iran is likely to use some of the funds to purchase weapons and fund terrorism that would threaten Americans and Israelis.
The concept of “snapping back” these sanctions also appears less effective than was originally claimed.
The complicated process to reimpose sanctions is unlikely to work even if Iran fails to comply with the agreement.
Iran views snap-back sanctions as grounds to walk away from the agreement, so any effort to reimpose sanctions will be regarded by all parties as whether or not to dissolve the agreement and impose sanctions.
I support a robust diplomatic effort that will prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability.
But I strongly disagree with proponents of this agreement who argue that the only alternative to this deal is war. That’s a false choice.
Iran came to the negotiating table because it desperately sought sanctions relief.
If this deal were rejected, we could impose even tougher sanctions, allowing our diplomats to negotiate a better deal that more adequately safeguards our nation’s security interests and that of our allies.
A better deal would not legitimize Iran as a nuclear threshold state, it would not trade massive sanctions relief for limited temporary constraints, and it would not provide concessions that will trigger a regional nuclear arms race.
If we reject this deal, we could push for an international agreement that would truly dismantle Iran’s nuclear program and verifiably prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.
A better deal would not ignore Iran’s past bad behavior. Iran has for many years been the most active state sponsor of terrorism.
Iran has an egregious record of human rights violations and the persecution of religious minorities. It continues to imprison U.S. citizens.
At least 500 U.S. military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are directly linked to Iran and its support for anti-American militants.
This agreement will free up tens of billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets, without addressing these issues.
We know Iran will use some of that money to support terrorist activities throughout the Middle East.
Iran provides support for the brutal Assad regime in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and provides weapons, funding and support to Hamas and Hezbollah.
This deal appears to be the result of desperation on our side for a deal, any deal, and the Iranians knew that.
This deal was negotiated from a position of weakness, when we should have been in a position of strength.
This deal is a result of President Obama’s philosophy of leading from behind.
As a result of this philosophy, we now have enemies who don’t fear us and friends and allies who don’t follow us because they question our credibility and leadership. We have a more dangerous world because of it.
President Obama himself said that it is better to have no deal than a bad deal.
This deal has far too many shortcomings and will fail to make America and our allies safer.
It will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, while providing a windfall that will allow them to ramp up their bad behavior.
I oppose this deal and I hope we can send a signal to the Administration and Iran that we need a deal that improves our national security and the security of our friends and allies in the region.