Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed


Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

All Eyes on Iran

May 18, 2015
Weekly Columns

Iran is a rogue state and very unlikely to be a dependable, reliable or honest negotiating partner. Over the last several months, all eyes have focused on the international negotiations to decide the nature of Iran’s nuclear capabilities. At the insistence of the Administration and despite warnings from our allies in the Middle East, these nuclear talks are expected to result in a deal that lifts sanctions and allows Iran to maintain much of its ability to enrich uranium. That means Iran would be only a few short steps away from creating a nuclear weapon whenever it chose to do so. 

Since 1984, Iran has been designated by the U.S. Department of State as a sponsor of terrorism around the world. The president has always acknowledged that designation, but oddly enough, it hasn’t shaken his determination to reach a historic deal with this dangerous country. On occasion, President Obama has voiced agreement with lawmakers who are outspoken in their distrust of Iran. But he still seems to think that the deal currently being negotiated will keep Iran in check. That is a dangerous delusion. 

Allowing Iran to become a nuclear capable state sets a terrible precedent for other nations in the region. Not only will it alarm and endanger Iran’s neighbors, it could easily lead to a regional nuclear arms race as well. In fact, Saudi Arabia recently announced that if Iran is allowed to continue moving forward with its nuclear program, it intends to match Iran, move for move. This is not a recipe for stability or peace in the Middle East.

Thanks to their concern about the president’s Iranian policies, several top Sunni leaders from the Gulf Cooperation Council declined to attend a summit hosted by President Obama at Camp David. While the countries sent representatives, the rulers from four of the six invited Persian Gulf Arab nations declined the invitation to meet personally with President Obama. This was clearly meant to convey their concern over the president’s pursuit of the Iranian nuclear negotiation. 

Rather than risk a bad Iranian deal and remove sanctions, it would be better to walk away now. As things currently stand, there are too many questions about the terms of the agreement. While the president has tried to reassure the American public that sanctions would be immediately re-imposed if Iran doesn’t abide by the agreement, Russia’s UN Ambassador recently said it wouldn’t be that simple or certain. Members of the UN Security Council would have to turn the sanctions back on together—meaning the president has to count on a consensus with many countries including Russia and China.

Congress continues to weigh in on the Iranian negotiations and demand the president seek its guidance and approval. Most recently, lawmakers voted in support of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which requires that any deal come to Congress for review before sanctions are lifted. During the 30 day period of review, the legislation allows lawmakers to either approve or disapprove the deal and keeps congressional sanctions on Iran in place. 

America must heed obvious warnings and past precedents in our dealings with other countries. I hope that the president will remember that in the fight against terror, it’s always better to stand with our known friends than rely on the word of suspected and known enemies. If America is not strong in its leadership and faithful to its friends, it will find itself isolated and distrusted in a dangerous world.