Still, I have long suspected Iran
would push the boundaries of the deal to test how the United States and our allies would respond.
For example, Iran’s heavy-water stockpile in February briefly exceeded the limit set by the deal. Whether this was an attempt by the Iranian regime to test the international community’s seriousness about enforcing the deal, or simply a genuine accident, the result was clear: The IAEA observed the incident and reported it to the United States, and the international community made sure Iran
corrected it immediately.
I was not surprised to learn that Iran
appears to be attempting to test the margins of the agreement. That’s why congressional oversight, intelligence collection, intrusive inspections and continued multilateral diplomacy are so important.
But we also have to look beyond the agreement and consider Iran’s broader, non-nuclear behavior.
continues to propagate anti-Semitism and call for the destruction of Israel. The regime continues to build its military arsenal and support terrorism
throughout the Middle East
— especially in Syria
, where Iran
bears substantial responsibility for keeping the murderous Bashar al-Assad
regime in power.
In addition, Iran
has continued to conduct illegal ballistic missile tests — including four since the agreement — and violate the human rights
of its citizens and non-Iranians, particularly minors, foreign journalists and businessmen.
It is precisely because of these destabilizing, provocative actions that America and our allies must do everything we can to enforce the terms of the agreement, push back on Iran’s bad behavior in the Middle East
and maintain our credible, conventional military deterrent in the region.
Yet these actions also underscore an important point about the agreement: It was a transactional — not a transformational — agreement. The reality is that this deal seeks to prevent Iran
from developing a nuclear bomb — not to bring the country into the community of nations. Only the Iranian government can do that, and the regime’s behavior demonstrates it does not intend to comply with international norms and rules.
Today, nearly a year into implementation of the Iran
agreement, what lessons does the deal offer for U.S. diplomacy and for Americans thinking about who to support in the presidential election?
remains untrustworthy. Since its 1979 revolution, it has pursued interests and advocated values completely opposed to those of the West. Its approach to regional crises has not changed.
seeks to exploit weak states and power vacuums. We must disrupt Iran’s aggressive activities in the Middle East
and support our regional partners, especially our vital ally, Israel.
Third, the past year has shown that international engagement and multilateral diplomacy can be effective — even with rogue states such as Iran. We must talk to our enemies, while at the same time maintaining coercive tools such as sanctions to respond to terrorism
, human rights
violations and illegal ballistic missile tests.
As part of these efforts, we must make it clear to Iranians why businesses don’t want to invest in their country — namely, because its business environment iscorrupt, opaque and controlled by the military.
The last lesson I’ll mention is this: Sustained, long-term congressional oversight of this deal remains essential. Regardless of what happens in November, I intend to stay actively engaged in ensuring enforcement of the agreement.
Speaking of the next president — let’s be clear. Preventing Iran
from developing or obtaining a nuclear weapon will require steady leadership, a nuanced understanding of diplomacy and constant scrutiny of Iran’s behavior. But only one leader understands these stakes, and only one leader has the experience, knowledge and temperament to implement the agreement successfully and advance a wise and principled American foreign policy.
Ultimately, our efforts to prevent Iran
from obtaining a nuclear weapon and preserve America’s global leadership role rest in the hands of the American people. We would be wise to learn the lessons from the first year of the nuclear deal, and to let those lessons guide us toward the right choice this fall.