September 10, 2015

Cárdenas Statement On Iran Deal

U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley) today released a statement, following his vote to support the resolution against a negotiated nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“This has been the most in-depth, multi-faceted decision I have had to make as an elected official,” said Cárdenas. “Opportunities to take a step closer to world peace only come along once in a great while. We must take them whenever possible. With that in mind, I have studied the agreement, I have met with experts on nuclear energy, arms control and Middle East policy and I have spoken with members of the State Department, Treasury Department, the United Nations and the President of the United States.

“Most importantly, I have heard from many of my constituents.

“This deal has been negotiated over the course of many years, by six nations who rarely agree with each other on matters of international affairs or diplomacy. The negotiators sent by President Obama, England, China, Germany, Russia and France have done an incredible job, securing concessions that would have been previously unimaginable.

“The “snap-back” provisions, allowing sanctions that would be relaxed under this deal to be immediately reinstituted, were Iran to cheat on the deal, permitting a great degree of action with minimal bureaucracy.

“This deal also creates a 15-year span of time during which the world community can not only encourage the Iranian people to step away from their interest in a nuclear weapons program, while creating a new mechanism that would permanently end Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“The inspection clauses present in this deal are also impressive. While much has been made of a very narrowly-tailored 24-day notification window for certain sites, most sites in Iran would be subject to immediate inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). As well, even in the “24-day” sites, our nuclear physicists have indicated to me that evidence of cheating would be pervasive and extremely difficult to hide. Inspections would find that evidence, sanctions would be “snapped back” and Iran would face total condemnation by the world community.

“Further, in meetings with atomic energy specialists and arms control representatives, I’ve learned that the control exerted by this deal over the uranium stockpile currently controlled by the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as the centrifuges that allow uranium hexafluoride to be refined into enriched uranium, are a good effort. Iran would immediately forfeit two-thirds of their centrifuges, losing the most efficient models. 98 percent of the 10,000 kilograms of uranium they have stockpiled would also be forfeited, leaving an insufficient amount of enriched uranium to build a bomb. The uranium they retain would be too lightly enriched to actually create a weapons-grade critical mass.

“Finally, the removal and redesign of the heavy water (deuterium) reactor at Arak would strike a massive blow to the Iranian weapons-grade atomic material manufacturing process, ending the ability to produce weapons-grade plutonium.   

“Unfortunately, despite the positives in this agreement, the history of United States negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran has led me to a frustrating conclusion.

“I read this plan as a Congressman, as a father and as an engineer. As an engineer, I understand that problems often include both variables and constants. International diplomacy is no different.

“The deal reached has created the best possible set of variables our nation could hope for. However, those variables are not the end of the equation. They do not exist in a vacuum.

“The constant we must deal with is that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has consistently been a bad actor on the international stage. Their past actions and current leadership lead me to believe that will continue.

“I cannot support any agreement that allows leeway to the repressive regime in Iran. While we discuss and debate their nuclear ambitions, Iran remains the leading state sponsor of terror, using conventional weapons, in a world where that threat manifests daily. Iran continues to hold four American citizens hostage. Their leadership seeks the destruction of American interests and allies in the Middle East and has consistently supported the destruction of Israel.

“The people of Israel are our strongest allies in the region and they deserve our respect and protection from exigent threats.

“While I doubt the likelihood of a nuclear Iran striking Israel were this deal to be fully implemented, I have great doubts about the Islamic Republic following through on its responsibilities. I also question our ability to punish future, Iranian-sponsored terrorist plots, including those executed against Israel by Hezbollah and Hamas. As nuclear sanctions disappear, sanctions intended to staunch the flow of capital to international terrorism will become less effective.

“Iran has consistently fought self-government by their own people, sponsored the killing and maiming of thousands and they remain an enemy to lasting peace in the region.

“We neither negotiate, nor act, in a vacuum. Unlike so many other instances in life, past performance must be a guide to what we believe future performance will show. For the United States, Iran’s past is not one of a rational actor. It is one of violence and diplomatic rhetoric with no follow-through.

“Lessening sanctions would show the people of Iran that their theocratic dictators are a viable form of government in the eyes of the world community, and would economically reward the Iranian people for supporting those who enslave them. It would benefit a government that has not shown responsibility for upholding its end of international agreements.

“I cannot allow that to happen on my watch, and therefore I will vote in favor of the people of the United States, Israel and Iran, by voting against this deal.”