Just a few weeks ago, I was honored to be part of a congressional delegation to the Middle East to learn more about the terms and conditions of President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran.
What I saw, heard and experienced reaffirmed my strong belief that the president has negotiated an irresponsible deal with the world’s leading sponsor of terror, one that will jeopardize the security of our nation and our allies.
We personally met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, visited with our U.S. ambassador to Egypt in Cairo, and traveled throughout the region listening to military and security experts.
We experienced firsthand the intolerance and radical behavior of Muslim extremists when we were harassed on Temple Mount. We were saddened when four young Israel Defense Force soldiers said they felt abandoned by their strongest ally, the United States, and alone in defending Israel, the region’s strongest democracy. We stood on the Syrian border and heard six explosions in the distance, a sign of a region in turmoil.
I remain convinced that the Iran nuclear agreement is bad for our nation, threatens our allies, and sets a dangerous precedent for future negotiations with rogue nations. On Sept. 10 and 11, the House of Representatives held a series of votes on the Iran deal, and I was proud to vote on the Iran agreement.
Incredibly, while the House voted overwhelmingly to reject the deal, Senate Democrats rallied behind President Obama to block even allowing the 100 members of the Senate to vote on the agreement.
The administration’s agreement has been cloaked in secrecy. Congress and the American people deserve to know exactly what has been negotiated. Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency have made at least two secret side agreements on investigations into its nuclear program. We do not know, for example, if these side agreements will demand that Iran open up its Parchin military site, where nuclear tests have reportedly been carried out, to IAEA weapons inspectors. Without knowing exactly what has been agreed to, voting for this agreement would be irresponsible.
The president also wants to use the deal to pull back decades-long sanctions on Iran, sanctions that had limited Iran’s financial influence in the world. These sanctions have worked, and these sanctions are what brought Iran to the negotiating table. Under the agreement, billions of dollars in assets frozen by the U.S. Treasury Department would now be available to Iran. Even the Obama administration acknowledges that this money could be used to fund terrorist groups throughout the Middle East.
I also voted yes to suspend the president’s authority to waive and suspend sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program until January 2017. We must continue using sanctions to rein in Iran’s nuclear program and to negotiate a better deal, one where Iran does not and cannot get a nuclear weapon.
The leaders of Iran have made multiple threats against Israel, denied the existence of the Holocaust, and continue to push their “death to America” rhetoric. And yet we trust them to self-inspect and report, as this agreement would allow? Allowing Iran in any way to obtain a nuclear weapon would endanger our national security and the security of our allies in the region, and this administration has failed to protect the world from the threat of a nuclear Iran.
We must say no to the Iran deal — no to a nuclear Iran, no to capitulating to this administration, and no to threatening our allies. This agreement isn’t a choice between war and peace — it’s a choice between turning a blind eye to a nuclear Iran or standing our ground.
Congressman Evan Jenkins represents West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.