Opinion Pieces

Op-Ed: Keep the Pressure on Iran

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By Reps. Kathleen Rice and John Katko, July 9, 2015 | comments

As American and Iranian negotiators work to finalize an agreement seeking to restrict Iran’s nuclear capabilities, many questions remain unanswered. We don’t know what is on the table in this final round of negotiations, what concessions have been made or considered by either side, or what exactly the final deal might look like. That said, there are a few basic elements this deal must include to have any chance of permanently preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.

First and foremost, Iran must agree to aggressive inspections and verification protocols. Our greatest concern in completing an agreement with Iran is that we have no reason to trust that Iranian leaders will abide by its terms. In fact, we have every reason not to. We need independent verification that they are following the rules, and that means inspectors must be free to go anywhere at any time – including military sites. 

Our aggressive economic sanctions are what brought Iranian leaders to the table, and if they want relief from those sanctions, they have to earn it. Signing a piece of paper is not enough. If we do agree to ease sanctions, we must do so gradually, and only as we verify that Iran is fully complying with the terms of the agreement and fully cooperating with inspectors on the ground. A failure to do so must result in immediate consequences.

Our goal in seeking an agreement with Iran must be to eliminate their routes to a nuclear bomb, not merely obstruct them for some period of time. Any final deal must strictly limit Iran’s uranium stockpile and require Iran to significantly dismantle its nuclear infrastructure, not merely disconnect equipment that could be rapidly reconnected in the future. We must make it clear to Iranian leaders that, even after an agreement may expire, we will stop at nothing to keep their paths to a nuclear weapon forever closed.

As members of the House Committee on Homeland Security, our priority is to protect the American people. There is no question that a nuclear-armed Iran would threaten the survival of Israel, our greatest ally in the region. We must also recognize the threat that it would pose to Americans at home and abroad. Iran is the world’s largest state-sponsor of terrorism, and if they were to develop a nuclear weapon, it would only be a matter of time before an Iranian-backed terrorist group sought to bring an Iranian-built bomb onto American soil. That can’t happen.

We sincerely hope that American negotiators will reach a strong final agreement that will eliminate Iran’s path to a bomb and prevent that prospect from ever becoming a reality. But if Iranian leaders are not yet ready to make these basic concessions, then we should be prepared to maintain the aggressive economic pressure that brought them to the table in the first place.  

Kathleen Rice is a Democrat representing New York’s 4th Congressional District. John Katko is a Republican representing New York’s 24th Congressional District.

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