1/22/2014 9:43:00 AM Commentary US bill provides leverage in Iran
By Paul Boyer, R-Phoenix
The Iranian regime remains the United States' greatest national security threat despite the recent efforts at diplomatic outreach. Iran continues to be the world leader in state-sponsored terrorism and provides significant support to terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and President Assad's regime in Syria. It is a regime that has the blood of American soldiers on its hands.
A nuclear-armed Iran would further elevate the status of the regime that already finances terrorism around the world. It would allow Iran to continue its illicit activities with less constraints and its global influence would increase dramatically. A nuclear-armed Iran poses an existential threat to Israel since Tehran has continually threatened to eliminate our democratic ally.
The Obama administration inked an interim agreement with Iran over the status of the regime's nuclear program last November, but concerns remain over the terms of the agreement. Under the interim agreement, Tehran is continuing to enrich uranium - the key step in the development of a nuclear weapon - and retains its current nuclear material and infrastructure. The agreement is also worth between $6 and $7 billion in sanctions relief to the regime in Tehran, which could be used for illicit purposes or to perpetrate terrorism.
That's why a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate is supporting the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, sponsored by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL). The bill, which currently has 59 cosponsors in the Senate, legislates new sanctions on Iran should it violate the current interim agreement or fail to reach a final agreement on the status of its nuclear program. The bill provides U.S. negotiators with the needed leverage to achieve a diplomatic solution.
In order to achieve a final agreement with Iran, U.S. negotiators must be given as much leverage as possible. Should Iran violate the terms of the current agreement, or fail to reach a final agreement with Western negotiators, new and increased sanctions should be levied on the Iranians. This provides negotiators with an important diplomatic tool to convince the Iranians to negotiate in good faith. And should the regime not follow through on its commitments, increased sanctions provide the U.S. with an insurance policy to prevent Iran from rapidly developing a nuclear weapon.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) immediately cosponsored this important piece of legislation and should be commended for his commitment to stopping Iran's nuclear program. I strongly encourage Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to also join the majority of his colleagues in the Senate and co-sponsor this bill.
The U.S. must use all tools available to prevent Iran's nuclear program from accelerating and to ultimately prevent a military response. All Americans agree that a diplomatic solution is far preferable to a military one. But in order to achieve a strong diplomatic agreement and prevent military action, we must provide our negotiators with the necessary leverage.
State Rep. Paul Boyer, a Republican, represents District 20, which covers parts of Phoenix and Glendale. He is a member of the House Appropriations, Health and Education Committees.