House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement in support of the Administration’s deal on Iran’s nuclear program:
The Administration, our closest allies, and the other members of the U.N. Security council worked tirelessly for two years to successfully negotiate a historic deal that will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon for at least the next 15 years.
Over the course of the last two months, I have reviewed the final agreement thoroughly and have had extensive conversations with the Administration, nonproliferation experts, our European allies, and those who are concerned with aspects of the deal. After careful and thoughtful consideration, I have decided to support this agreement because I believe it ends the otherwise unmonitored and unrestricted continuation of the Iranian nuclear program and it halts the surely destructive effects of a nuclear Iran in the Middle East.
This deal gives the world unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear sites and intrusive monitoring of its uranium supply and centrifuge production chains to ensure its enrichment activities are extremely limited. This is access that we would not have without a deal. These verification measures are key to making sure that Iran sticks to its part of the bargain to not enrich uranium above 3.67% and to keep no more than 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium for the next 15 years. These levels are far below those necessary to build a nuclear weapon. This deal substantially lengthens the time Iran would need to develop a nuclear weapon should it decide to violate the agreement.
This agreement took high-level diplomatic engagement and represents a broad international agreement. Congress’ rejection of this deal would hurt the U.S.’ credibility and likely fracture the international cooperation that was essential in enforcing a sanctions regime on Iran. This would make potential negotiations with Iran in the future incredibly difficult, and increase the likelihood that Iran would be able to develop a nuclear weapon without constraints. It is hard to see how turning this deal down strengthens our position or furthers our national security interests in the region.
Iran’s support to terrorist groups in the region is destabilizing and a threat to the U.S. and our allies. I too share concerns over lifting the arms embargo on Iran in 5 years should it comply with all of its obligations in the nuclear agreement, and I do not believe that Iran will suddenly become a force for good in the region. However, it is important to bear in mind that this does not affect U.S. or EU bans on weapons sales, and that the goal of these negotiations was to reach a deal that prevents Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Iran is a malign actor, but an Iran with a nuclear deterrent would be free to pursue its bad actions without fear of military response. We cannot allow U.S. domestic politics to make such a future more likely.
The 60-day period for Congress to review the deal is almost over. During the remaining time, I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Administration to ensure that we have the correct mechanisms in place to monitor Iran’s compliance with the deal and to respond should Iran forfeit its compliance with this agreement. As the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will also work with the Administration and my colleagues to address Iran’s other malign activities and enhance the security of our Israeli and Arab partners in the region. I remain concerned about Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region and threats to the security of our allies and our servicemen and women. But I firmly believe that those threats would be made much worse if Iran possessed nuclear weapons. At this time, the deal negotiated between Iran and the international community is the best way to prevent Iran from getting those weapons.