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Tell Senators Cardin and Mikulski to Oppose the Iran Deal

Posted: August 23, 2015 at 8:38 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

markUncaphernewBy Mark Uncapher

In a vote with significant implications for peace and security in the Middle East and elsewhere, Congress will soon be taking up the proposed Iranian nuclear agreement.

Congress has until September 17 to act on a resolution either approving or disapproving the pact. Although President Obama technically does not need explicit congressional approval for the deal, Congress can still effectively halt it by blocking Obama’s ability to lift economic sanctions, which is a critical concession to Iran.

Iran’s continued active hostility to the US is hardly in dispute. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the President’s nominee to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress last month that at least 500 U.S. military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan were directly linked to Iran and its support for terrorists and other anti-American militants. Even that number is thought to understate Iran’s actual impact on American casualties.

Earlier this past week the AP reported a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such inspections, permitting Iran to “self-inspect” itself in the “search” for evidence for activities that the county has consistently denied — trying to develop nuclear weapons.

So much for “Trust, but Verify.”

At issue is the International Atomic Energy Agency’s ability to inspect the Parchin nuclear site that Iran has refused access to for years. The IAEA suspects that the Iran has experimented with high-explosive detonators for nuclear arms at this military facility.

Even more important than the flawed inspection process, the deal simply does not prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon in the future. It only imposes temporary restrictions on Iran’s illegal nuclear program. After the arrangement expires, Iran will have better resources to pursue more advanced nuclear technologies and to build a nuclear weapon even faster than would be the case had sanctions remained in place.

Iran is permitted to retain its enrichment infrastructure, including advanced centrifuges. The administration’s concession on uranium enrichment reverses a long standing principle of U.S. nonproliferation policy of trying to prevent the development of indigenous uranium enrichment capability because technologies for uranium enrichment and weapons grade enrichment are the same.

The deal has more in common with the shortsighted 1938 Munich Agreement with Hitler than past arms control agreements. The deal’s rationale rests with hopes that a highly belligerent country will become less so once concessions are made to it.

A handful of Democratic Senators remain undecided, including both of Maryland’s Senators, Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski. Additional votes are required to reach the 60 vote threshold to invoke cloture and assure a vote on the agreement.

Sen. Cardin is regarded as a pivotal vote. The Washington Post reports: “Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been holding his cards close to the vest on the Iran deal and could become a decisive vote. Now that Chuck Schumer, the likely next Democratic leader, is openly opposed to the agreement, Cardin has been getting increasing attention and pressure from both sides.”

How to reach Senator Cardin: By email: senator@cardin.senate.gov; by letter or phone:
Washington D.C. 509 Hart Senate Office Building, 20510: (202) 224-4524

  • Baltimore Office: (410) 962-4436
  • Bowie Office: (301) 860-0414
  • Cumberland Office: (301) 777-2957
  • Rockville Office: (301) 762-2974
  • Salisbury Office: (410) 546-4250
  • Southern Maryland: (202) 870-1164

To reach Sen. Barbara Mikulski by email senator@mikulski.senate.gov; by letter or phone:
Washington D.C.: 503 Hart Senate Office Building, 20510: (202) 224-4654

  • Annapolis: (410) 263-1805
  • Greenbelt: (301) 345-5517
  • Baltimore: (410) 962-4510
  • Hagerstown:(301) 797-2826
  • Salisbury: (410) 546-7711

Let both Senators know that, contrary to the President’s claim that there is no alternative to the Iran deal; the continuation of sanctions provides a sounder approach. Continuing sanctions will limit Iran’s ability to fund terrorism across the Middle East, to access to advanced technologies that will allow Iran to further improve its nuclear and ballistic missile program, and allows the pressure of sanctions to negotiate a better deal.