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Obama Administration To Rubio: Next President Could Undo Iran Deal
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement after today’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Iran, which featured Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz:
“Despite their bluster and maneuvering at the United Nations, the Obama Administration admitted today what we already knew: the next president is under no legal or moral obligation to keep this flawed deal. This is President Obama’s deal with Iran, and our allies and adversaries alike should take careful notice about Secretary Kerry’s acknowledgment today about the limits of the agreement, the fact that neither the American people nor their elected representatives in Congress support this deal, and that if the next president returns America to its rightful indispensable role in the world, Iran will be dealt with quite differently than it has been during the Obama Administration.
“This should have a chilling effect for any business thinking about investing in Iran and setting up operations there. This deal will not outlive this administration, and international businesses that move in to Iran in the coming months need to know they will lose everything if the next president chooses not to continue granting Iran the national security waiver this president is pursuing, or if Iran once again fails to keep its promises.
“Today’s hearing also raises more questions about whether the American people and the world are supposed to believe the Obama Administration’s assurances on key aspects of the deal, or if we’re supposed to believe the actual text of the nuclear agreement. The agreement states very clearly that the U.S. would be obligated to help Iran against future efforts to sabotage its nuclear program, but Secretary Kerry said today that is absolutely not the case.
“Iran is led by an evil regime that has never lived up to its previous international agreements, is currently involved in sponsoring terrorism and remains unrepentant in its desire to destroy the United States and Israel. Instead of legitimizing them and rewarding them as President Obama has done, we should be standing with our allies in opposition to Iran in word and deed.”
A video of Rubio’s remarks and his exchanges with Obama Administration officials is available here, and a full transcript is available below.
Senator Marco Rubio: “Secretary Kerry, the Administration has publicly stated that you expect this deal to be rejected by majorities in both houses of Congress. You said that while winning approval from Congress would be nice, your goal is to basically convince enough Democrats to support the deal so that you can avoid an override of the President’s veto. So, as far as the administration is concerned, this is a done deal.
“But I do think it is important, for the world, and especially for Iran to understand that as far as the American sanctions are concerned, this is a deal whose survival is not guaranteed beyond the term of the current President.
“And, by the way, I personally hope the next President is someone who will remove the national security waiver and reimpose the congressional sanctions that were passed by Congress, because this deal is fundamentally and irreparably flawed. I believe it weakens our national security, and it makes the world a more dangerous place.
“And throughout this process, by the way, this administration, in my opinion, has repeatedly capitulated on some important items. The examples are endless.
“It begins by allowing a perception to be created that we were pressing for “anywhere, anytime inspections,” and now denying that was ever part of the process or ever promised. And I understand all the disputes about the terms, but clearly there was a perception created among my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, that we were pressing for anywhere, anytime inspections including of potential covert sites.
“Then the “snapback sanctions,” I think, are also hollow. We have this complicated 24-day arbitration process that Iran is going to test and exploit over and over again.
“They realize this, by the way. They know that once the international sanctions are gone, they will be impossible to “snap back”. As your Iranian counterpart, Mr. Zarif has bragged, “Once the structure of the sanctions collapse, it will be impossible to reconstruct it.” He also bragged earlier this week that incremental violations of the agreement would not be prosecuted.
“No matter what happens, Iran will keep the more than billions of dollars it is going to receive up front, basically as a signing bonus. Iran will be allowed to continue to develop long-range ballistic missiles, ICBMs, that know only one purpose, and that is for nuclear warfare.
“And so, all these promises they’re making about never pursuing a weapon, they are all revealed as lies when they are developing a long-range rocket capable of reaching this very room one day not so far off in the future. There’s only one reason to develop those rockets, that’s to put a nuclear warhead on them.
“By the way, the deal also allows the arms embargo to eventually end.
“On terrorism, this deal will provide billions, possibly hundreds of billions, to a regime that, according to Director of National Intelligence Clapper “directly threatens the interests of the United States and our allies.”
“And lastly, nothing in the deal holds Iran to account on human rights. Quite the opposite, the Iranian regime, is being rewarded for its atrocious human rights record.
“I know you have said you brought up American hostages in every negotiation. And I think we all thank you for that, but for the families of Americans who are missing or detained in Iran, such as that of my constituent Robert Levinson, this deal has brought no new information regarding their loved ones’ whereabouts.
“This deal does nothing for Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, whose brother Ali is with us here in this room today. In fact, you personally met and negotiated with an Iranian official who when pressed on Jason’s case, lied to the world by saying, “We don’t jail people for their opinions.”
“This deal does nothing for Marine Corps Sergeant Amir Hekmati, who dictated a letter from Evin prison that said, “Secretary Kerry sits politely with the Iranians, shaking hands and offering large economic concessions to save them from economic meltdown,” as Iran adds hostages.
“It does nothing for Pastor Saeed Abedini, whose only crime was practicing his religion.
“In fact, the only people this deal does anything for directly are the Iranian officials who want to continue to jail and execute their people, who hate Israel and seek to wipe the Jewish state and its people from the face of the planet, who want to spread mayhem throughout the Middle East and continue to help Assad slaughter the Syrian people and perhaps kill some Americans and Israelis while they are at it.
“Secretary Kerry, I do not fault you for trying to engage in diplomacy and striking a deal with Iran. I do fault the president for striking a terrible deal with Iran.
“I hope enough of my Democratic colleagues can be persuaded to vote against this deal and prevent the president from executing it.
“But even if this deal narrowly avoids Congressional defeat because we can’t get to that veto-proof majority, the Iranian Regime and the world should know that this deal is your deal with Iran. I mean yours meaning this administration’s. And the next President is under no legal or moral obligation to live up to it.
“The Iranian Regime and the world should know that the majority of the members of this Congress do not support this deal, and that the deal can go away on the day President Obama leaves office.
“And it that realm, I wanted to ask about this. If you, today, are a company, that after this deal is signed, go into Iran and build a manufacturing facility, and then, the next President of the United States lifts the national security waiver or Iran violates the deal, do the sanctions apply against that facility moving forward? In essence, if I go in, if a company goes into Iran now after this deal and builds a manufacturing facility of any kind, they build car batteries, and then Iran violates the deal and the sanctions kick back in, will that facility be able to continue to operate without facing sanctions?”
Secretary Jacob Lew: “Senator, if a company acts to go in to do business with Iran while the sanctions are lifted, that would be permitted, if Iran violates the deal and the sanctions snap back, they would not be able to continue doing things that are in violation of the sanctions.”
Senator Rubio: “The reason why that is important, it’s important for companies anywhere in the world to know that whatever investment they make in Iran, they are risking it. In essence, they are betting on the hope that Iran never violates the deal and they are also hoping that the next President of the United States does not reimpose U.S. Congressional sanctions, by which they would become sanctioned entity.
“I have one more specific question about the deal. There is a section titled ‘Nuclear Security,’ the document states that those who negotiated the deal are prepared to cooperate with Iran on the implementation of nuclear security guidelines and best practices.
“There is a provision, 10.2, it reads: ‘Co-operation through training and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to protect against, and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage, as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems.’
“Here’s my question, if Israel decides it doesn’t like this deal and it wants to sabotage an Iranian Nuclear program or facility, does this deal that we have just signed, obligate us to help Iran defend itself against Israeli sabotage or for that matter the sabotage of any other country in the world?”
Secretary Ernest Moniz: “I believe that refers to things like physical security and safeguards, I think all of our options and those of our allies and friends would remain in place.”
Senator Rubio: “Well, I guess that’s my point. If Israel conducts an airstrike against a physical facility does this deal, the way I read it, does it require us to help Iran protect and respond to that threat?
Secretary Moniz: “Uh, no.”
Senator Rubio: “It does not?”
Secretary Moniz: “No.”
Secretary John Kerry: “The purpose of that is to be able to have longer-term guarantees as we enter a world in which cyber warfare is increasingly a concern for everybody that if you’re going to have nuclear capacities, you clearly want to be able to ensure that those are adequately protected, but I can assure you we will coordinated in every possible way with Israel with respect to Israel’s concerns.”
Senator Rubio: “So if Israel conducts a cyber-attack against the Iranian nuclear program are we obligated to help them defend themselves against the Israeli cyber-attack?”
Secretary Kerry: “No, I assure you that we will be coordinating very closely with Israel as we on every aspect of Israel’s security.”
Senator Rubio: “Well, that’s not how I read this.”
Secretary Kerry: “Well I don’t see any way possible that we will be in conflict with Israel with respect to what we might want to do there, and I think we just have to wait until we get to that point.
“But I do think Senator, you know I listened to a long list of your objections here about it, but there’s no alternative that you or anyone else has proposed as to what you –.”
Senator Rubio: “I sure have Secretary Kerry.”
Secretary Kerry: “And I am confident that the next President of the United States will have enough common sense that if this is being applied properly, if it’s being implemented fully, they’re not just going to arbitrarily end it.
“They might want to engage and find a way if they think there’s some way to strengthen it or do something, but I cannot see somebody just arbitrarily deciding, ‘Let’s go back to where we were where they are completely free to do whatever they want without any inspections, without any input, without any restraints, without any insight.’ I don’t think any president would do that.”
Senator Rubio: “Well the status quo is they are already in violation. Before you signed this deal, Iran was already in violation of existing mandates and restrictions, including things they had signed onto in the past.”
Secretary Kerry: “And this deal brings them back into compliance, Senator. That is exactly the purpose of this deal.”
Senator Rubio: “Well this deal brings them back into the promise of compliance.”
Secretary Kerry: “If they don’t live up to it, every option we have today is on the table. So we don’t lose anything here.
“The way we lose is by rejecting the deal, because then you have no restraints, you have no sanctions, you have no insight, you have no inspectors, you have no diminution of their centrifuges, you have no reduction of their stockpile.
“And if you want to just conveniently forget the fact that they had enough material to build 10 to 12 bombs, that’s the threat to Israel.
“And if you go back to that without any alternative, other than what most people think is going to be the alternative, which is confrontation.
“Nobody has a plan that is articulated and is reasonable as to how you are going to strengthen this, do something more when the Supreme Leader of Iran, the President of Iran, and others believe they have signed an agreement with the world.
“And the rest of the world thinks it’s a good agreement.
“Now, if you think the Ayatollah is going to come back and negotiate again with an American, that’s fantasy. You are never going to see that because we will have proven that we are not trustworthy.
“We’ve got 535 secretaries of state and you can’t make a deal with anybody. That’s going to undo a whole bunch of efforts and a whole bunch of things that matter to people in the world. That’s what’s at stake here.”