The manufactured political firestorm over the Israeli Prime Minister’s speech that dominated recent headlines would just be unfortunate, if it wasn’t so dangerous.
As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Congress on Tuesday, “we don't have to bet the security of the world on the hope that Iran will change for the betterWe can insist that restrictions on Iran's nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world.”
If the leader of one of America’s closest allies addresses members of Congress about a critical threat to Israel’s existence and to America’s security interests, then each and every member of Congress should pay attention. To trivialize this grave threat to Israel’s existence and America’s national security would be a tremendous oversight that could result in catastrophic outcomes.
Iran is the world’s most powerful state-sponsor of terror, and they are on the verge of reaching an agreement with the West that could allow it to become a nuclear power.
Instead of bickering over our relationship with our closest ally in the region, it is imperative now more than ever that we focus on how to keep those nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands.
The harsh reality is that Iran has been linked to the majority of global terror attacks over the last 35 years. Even more shocking is that the majority of Americans murdered by
terrorists last year were killed by those supported by Iran, rather than ISIS. As dangerous as the “JV Team” Islamic State has proven to be, this should be a wakeup call to the country.
When Iran runs a naval exercise in which they destroy an effigy of a U.S. aircraft carrier, we are reminded just how dangerous Iran is and how deeply committed it is to its anti-American and anti-Western agenda.
Iran’s global network of terrorism includes terrorist entities and countries that all hold vehemently anti-American platforms. They fund Hamas and Hezbollah, and they have had increasingly troublesome interactions with Latin American countries, including the recent mysterious death of an Argentine prosecutor responsible for investigating Iran's role in the 1994 AMIA terrorist attack.
For all these reasons, it is imperative that Congress heeds Prime Minister Netanyahu’s warnings, and ensure that any future agreement with Iran prevents, rather than delays, Iran’s journey to nuclear weapons.
For years, Iranian intransigence has stonewalled diplomacy, blocking any such deal from materializing. Iran’s persistent refusal to be open with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors proves that it cannot be trusted to scale back its nuclear program alone.
To truly ensure a nuclear weapons-free Iran, a deal must require the regime to dismantle its nuclear program. Concrete steps include shutting down the Arak heavy water reactor, dismantling the majority of its centrifuges, capping enrichment capacity at 3.5 percent (the level necessary for peaceful nuclear power), disclosing information on ballistic missile research, and allowing inspectors complete access to verify all of the above.
America, and our global partners, should recommit to the only tactic that has been effective to date, stiff economic sanctions. The crippling effect these sanctions have had upon Iran’s economy is the only reason we’ve come this far, and providing sanctions relief without concessions from Iran simply plays into their hands.
After all, in a region wrought with instability and dominated by regimes that do not share our values, Israel is a lone outpost of freedom and democracy: a true American ally. This is where America, Israel, and liberty make their stand. The relationship between the United States and Israel must remain strong, and our commitment to our shared safety and security hinges on preventing Iran’s path to nuclear weapons.
Duncan is a Republican who represents S.C.’s Third District in the U.S. House of Representatives and author of the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act.
Clemmons is a Republican who represents Myrtle Beach as a senior member of the S.C. House of Representatives and is National Chair of the Israel Allies Legislative Caucus Coalition.