(More on Iran)
On February 1, 2022, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee articulated his decisive opposition to US policy on Iran, delivering a thundering message to President Biden:
*The current policy-makers seem to repeat the self-destruct errors of the 2015 nuclear accord (JCPOA), “which it appears the Biden Administration is seeking to reestablish;”
*The policy toward Iran must be based on the well-documented rogue track record of Iran’s Ayatollahs, not on unsubstantiated hopes;
*Iran’s Ayatollahs are preoccupied with missiles, not with butter;
*The Iranian threat is not limited to nuclear weapons, but includes a massive proliferation of terror and ballistic missile technologies and hardware;
*The Iranian threat is not limited to the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, but extends globally;
*A credible military option should be introduced into the negotiation process, in order to give diplomacy a chance. It should go beyond the evasive statement that “all options are on the table;”
*The Biden Administration should realize that Iran’s Ayatollahs are not good-faith negotiators.
The following are excerpts from Senator Menendez’ floor speech:
“…. We are not dealing with a good-faith actor here….
“Rather than extend the duration of the agreement, we need a permanent agreement….
“A group of senior bipartisan diplomats, military officers and former members of Congress issued a statement through the Washington Institute for Near East Policy about the importance of a credible military threat should Iran breach certain red lines….
“We cannot allow Iran to threaten us into a bad deal or an interim agreement that allows it to continue to build its nuclear capacity. Nor should we cling to the scope of an agreement [the 2015 JCPOA] that it seems some are holding on to for nostalgia’s sake. As I said seven years ago [when Senator Menendez opposed the JCPOA], hope is not a national security strategy. In the words that I spoke in 2015:
‘Whether or not the supporters of the agreement admit it, this deal is based on hope – hope that – when the nuclear sunset clause expires, Iran will have succumbed to the benefits of commerce and global integration. Well, they have not.
‘Hope that the hardliners will have lost their power and the revolution will end its hegemonic goals. They have not.
‘And, hope that the regime will allow the Iranian people to decide their own future. The hardliners are more entrenched and they have not allowed the Iranian people to decide that future.
‘Hope is part of human nature, but unfortunately it is not a national security strategy.’
“…. It stretches incredulity to believe that they [Iran’s Ayatollahs] signed on to a deal that would in any way weaken the regime or threaten the goals of the Revolution. They will not.
“I understand that this deal represents a trade-off, a hope that things may be different in Iran in 10-15 years. Maybe Iran will desist from its nuclear ambitions. But is has not.
“Maybe they’ll stop exporting and supporting terrorism. But they have not.
“Maybe they’ll stop holding innocent Americans hostage. But they have not.
“Maybe they’ll stop burning American flags. But they have not.
“And, maybe their leadership will stop chanting ‘Death to America’ in the streets of Tehran. But they have not.
“Or, the hope was maybe they won’t do those things. But they have continued to do all those things….
“Now, we can’t live in a counterfactual world where all parties remained in full compliance, but we do know that even for the first couple years of the JCPOA, Iran’s leaders… fought vigorously to keep their highly advanced nuclear infrastructure in place….
“The US Intelligence Community assessed last year that ‘Iran and its militant allies continue to plot terrorist attacks against US persons and interests….’
“Iran has the largest ballistic missile force in the region… They can reach as far as 1,300 miles in any direction – deep into India and China to the east; high into Russia to the north; to Greece and other parts of Europe to the west; and as far south as Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa and dozens of countries in between….
“Iran’s consistent obfuscation, continual stalling, and outlandish demands have left us flying blind….
“We cannot abandon our efforts to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and the arms race it would surely set off in the Middle East.
“We cannot ignore Iran’s nefarious support for terrorism, or accept threats to American interests and lives….
“Iran cannot and must not possess a nuclear weapon.”
*On August 18, 2015, Senator Menendez concluded a presentation of his opposition to the JCPOA: “I know that the editorial pages that support the agreement would be far kinder, if I voted yes, but they largely also supported the agreement that brought us a nuclear North Korea…. if Iran is to acquire a nuclear bomb, it will not have my name on it….”