Robert Hurt: The threat of a nuclear Iran persists

Robert_HurtThe long-running nuclear negotiations with Iran and the United States, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom have been extended multiple times since missing a June 30 deadline, but weekend reports indicate that a deal may finally be within reach.  I am committed to the goal of eliminating Iran’s nuclear capabilities because the prospect of Iran attaining the ability to produce a nuclear weapon is a grave threat to the world.  But based on the reports we have seen over the last few months, I fear that this potential deal will not accomplish this vital objective.  Rather, it may fuel Iran’s ability to expand its nuclear ambitions and facilitate its efforts to spread terror in the Middle East.

Iranian leaders clearly remain focused on expanding their nuclear capabilities.  They only want to do the bare minimum necessary to lift damaging international economic sanctions that have crippled their economy.  Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.  The regime makes no secret of its longstanding commitment to see the demise of the United States and Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East.  On Saturday, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke about the need to continue to fight against the “arrogant” U.S. regardless of the outcome of these talks.  Allowing Iran to achieve the nuclear capabilities it seeks would pose an existential threat to Israel and the world.

Given Iran’s nuclear ambitions and history, I remain skeptical that Iran will act in good faith and adhere to any of the terms of a deal.  Iran has been unwilling to make necessary compromises to meaningfully limit their nuclear program, and there is little reason to believe this will change.  Making a deal just for the sake of doing so is not worth putting the safety and security of our allies and our country at risk; no deal is better than a dangerous deal.

If this deal is in fact a bad one, the American people have a role to play in this process.  In May, the President signed into law the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which would require congressional review of any final nuclear agreement with Iran before the President can waive or suspend sanctions previously imposed by Congress.  If a final agreement is reached, Congress will have 60 days to review the agreement and can pass a joint resolution to approve or disapprove of the deal.  Should Congress disapprove the deal, the President would likely veto that measure, but Congress can override the veto with a two-thirds vote.

It is my hope that Congress will carefully consider the consequences of a deal with Iran and maintain its focus on the ultimate goal of eliminating the threat of a nuclear Iran.  I remain committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to enhance the necessary sanctions against the Iranian regime.  We must do everything within our power to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities.

If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.

Robert Hurt represents Virginia’s Fifth District in Congress.

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