Earlier this year, I traveled with a delegation of senior congressional leaders to meet with key partners in the Middle East and Europe. The United States is fortunate to have allies that recognize the importance of partnerships and the gravity of the common threats we face to our security. The spread of radical Islam and Iran’s rising influence were the focus of the delegation’s discussions. In numerous meetings with our partners, it was striking to hear the concurrence of views — by Arabs and Israelis — concerning the possibility of a nuclear Iran and the dangers imposed by its continued efforts to destabilize the region.
The deadline for negotiations for a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran is rapidly approaching. Like many of my Republican and Democratic colleagues in Congress, I support the bipartisan notion of a diplomatic solution to keep Iran from producing nuclear weapons. It should be the goal of the administration to achieve a lasting and meaningful agreement; however, several difficult issues remain unresolved.
The dangers of a nuclear-capable Iran are many:
• A nuclear arms race could be ignited in an unstable region of the world.
• The nuclear nonproliferation the United States has fought so hard for decades to achieve could end.
• Catastrophic weapons would be in the hands of the most dangerous state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Iran has openly sworn to use such weapons against the U.S. and our allies.
• Economic instability would be exacerbated in a strategic area of the world for the U.S., including threats to important shipping lanes.
• The likelihood of war in the region and beyond would be greatly increased.
Iran continues to destabilize the region. It is boosting Bashar Assad in Syria, supporting sectarian elements in Iraq that undercut hopes for a unified and stable country, and threatening the security of our ally Israel by providing assistance to the terrorist organization Hezbollah. In February, an Iranian-backed militia displaced the government in Yemen, a key counterterrorism partner. Iran’s spread of its hatred for the U.S. and the West is one of the most significant dangers to our freedom and liberty in the world.
We must insist on a deal that eliminates any Iranian pathway to a nuclear weapon. I agree with the president that a bad deal is worse than no deal at all.
Moving forward, the framework of any deal must include the following elements:
• Inspectors must be permitted unimpeded access to suspect sites.
• Iran must increase transparency in its existing weaponization efforts.
• Sanctions relief must commence only after Iran complies with its commitments, not before, as the Iranians have insisted upon during negotiations.
• Iran’s nuclear weapons quest must be denied indefinitely.
• Iran must dismantle its nuclear infrastructure.
It is inaccurate for the administration to continue to claim that we must get the best deal now or the alternative is war. Having more than $100 billion in Iranian assets frozen caused Iran to come to the bargaining table. Iran can be pressed toward making a good deal if sanction pressures are maintained. The alternative to a bad deal is not war, but rather increased sanctions. Sanctions created a possible diplomatic solution, and sanctions can establish a good diplomatic solution.
Resolving the nuclear crisis with Iran remains of great importance to our nation’s security. Before any sanctions are lifted, Congress should fully review the details of any agreement. Americans expect strong leadership, and I stand with our partners in the Middle East and around the world seeking to defend the cause of freedom.
U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., serves on the House Armed Services Committee and is also chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. He is a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.