Senator Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) has the power to smash Obama’s Iranian nuclear agreement. Having denounced Obama’s pact with the atomic ayatollahs Thursday, Schumer should go the extra mile and rally at least twelve more Senate Democrats to join him in defeating this deal. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also announced on Thursday his opposition to Obama’s triumph of negotiating prowess. Engel should persuade Democrats to help build a veto-proof House majority against this potentially lethal nonsense.
So, why did Schumer buck Obama on what is as important to him in international relations as Obamacare is in domestic affairs? As Breitbart‘s Joel B. Pollak and others have observed, this accord violates nearly every principle that Schumer required for his approval. Schumer deserves credit for sticking closely to his publicly declared beliefs on this vital issue.
In a May 10 speech to the Lefkowitz Leadership Institute, Schumer said any no-nukes deal with Iran must feature “five things we have to be very, very careful about.”
First, Schumer insisted that “the United States and the Western powers can inspect anywhere and anytime . . . unannounced.” Obama’s arrangement miserably fails this test.
Last April, General Hossein Salami, the Revolutionary Guards’ deputy chief, barred inspectors from military bases. “Iran will not become a paradise of spies,” he thundered. “We will not roll out the red carpet for the enemy.”
On July 31, Ali Akbar Velayati bolstered this point. As the Wall Street Journal and the Middle East Media Research Institute reported, this top aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, “Regardless of how the P5+1 countries interpret the nuclear agreement, their entry into our military sites is absolutely forbidden. The entry of any foreigner, including IAEA inspectors or any other inspector, to the sensitive military sites of the Islamic Republic is forbidden, no matter what.”
While Obama’s covenant lets inspectors visit non-military sites, Iran may stall them for 24 to 78 days – plenty of time to cover up anything fishy.
Under Obama’s agreement, the Iranian regime itself would collect soil samples at suspicious sites and supply them to inspectors. As Senator John Barrasso (R., Wyo.) explains, “It’s like asking an NFL player to mail in their own urine sample instead of the collection being done so you can verify what you’re getting is real.”
Apparently Iran is not content to cheat after Congress has weighed Obama’s deal. NBC Nightly News‘ White House correspondent Chris Jansing said Wednesday, “Reports tonight that satellite images show Iran cleaning up one of its military nuclear sites, destroying evidence.”
Thursday evening brought word that Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Quds Force and a U.S.-designated terrorist, visited Moscow to huddle with Vladimir Putin. Soleimani’s July 24-26 sojourn violated the United Nations’ anti-travel sanctions under Security Council Resolution 1747. Rather than behave themselves while America considers Obama’s deal, Iran’s most notorious henchmen flout international restrictions on their behavior and do whatever they damn well please.
Second, “the sanctions in their first year reduced Iranian GDP by 6 percent, and Iran came to the table,” Schumer observed. “If sanctions had worked to bring them to the table, you don’t loosen them before they do anything. The sanctions are very important still.”
Obama’s hopelessly naïve bargain is dreadful for America and Israel. Schumer is correct to oppose Obama’s plan and should be commended for doing so.
Most sanctions against Iran would vanish immediately. Moreover, Obama plans an Iranian bailout with $100 billion to $150 billion in unfrozen assets replenishing the vaults of the world’s No. 1 purveyor of radical Islamic terrorism.
What could go wrong?
Third, “how do sanctions snap back?” Schumer asked. “How automatic is it?”
Not very. Indeed, Obama’s deal would grandfather pre-snapback enterprises. They would be free to do business, even if snapped-back sanctions subsequently hindered commerce.
“Can one of the other P5+1 powers, other than the United States, prevent a snapback?” Schumer wondered. “Not only do I not trust the Russians and Chinese. I don’t have much faith in putting the future of the Jewish people in the hands of the Europeans.”
Fourth, “we have to know” about Iran’s previous or existing nuclear activities, Schumer insisted. Measuring Iran’s compliance without establishing an atomic baseline is as pointless as swallowing an anti-hypertension drug without first taking one’s blood pressure. How would you gauge progress?
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi could help develop that baseline. Alas, Tehran has spent five years preventing international inspectors from interviewing him and other Iranian atomic experts.
Fifth, “they have 10,000 kilograms of enriched uranium,” Schumer noted. “What’s going to happen with that uranium?”
Obama’s deal does cut that eleven-ton stockpile to 300 kilograms (661 pounds). However, that restriction ends after 15 years.
Sixth, Schumer stated in December 2013, “Democrats and Republicans are going to work to see that . . . Iran gives up not only all nuclear weapons, but all nuclear-weapon capability, all enriched uranium, all the centrifuges, and all of the heavy-water plants at Arak.” While Obama’s transaction would neutralize Arak, it otherwise violates Schumer’s own “pledge and . . . assurance” on these other specifics.
“The horror of a nuclear weapon exploding over Israel could wipe out that very little state,” Schumer soberly warned. “Millions would die. Many others would leave. And the age-old dream of the Jewish people to have a homeland in Israel, now only 67 years old, would be gone.”
Obama’s hopelessly naïve bargain is dreadful for America and Israel. It also defiles Schumer’s own standards. Thus, Schumer is correct to oppose Obama’s plan and should be commended for doing so. So should Engel, New York Democratic representatives Steve Israel and Nita Lowey, and other members of Congress who split with the White House on this matter of life and death. New York’s senior senator now should use his considerable media and legislative skills to crush this dangerous swindle and help Democrats relegate it to the diplomatic dumpster.
A version of this piece previously appeared on National Review Online.