Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent the President a letter Monday that warned the administration is on a dangerous path toward a deal that would let Iran continue its nuclear program, that the President has caved on too many of his own goals for stopping Iran’s nuclear program, and said if Iran pushes for more concessions related to transparency, President Obama should have the courage to “please pause and consider rethinking the entire approach.”
Corker is specifically worried by reports that Obama is about to make another concession, one that would allow Iran avoid having to admit having certain nuclear capabilities, and instead allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency made determinations about these capabilities without any confirmation from Iran. Corker said that if this concession has been offered, it would be a mistake.
The senator said it was “breathtaking” to see how much ground Mr. Obama and his fellow negotiating partners have given to Iran in the talks.
He said the president must insist inspectors having access “anytime, anywhere” if a deal is to be successful, and said even at this point Iran had backslid on a 2013 information-sharing agreement.
The full text of his letter is below:
Dear Mr. President:
It is breathtaking to see how far from your original goals and statements the P5+1 have come during negotiations with Iran. Under your leadership, six of the world’s most important nations have allowed an isolated country with roguish policies to move from having its nuclear program dismantled to having its nuclear proliferation managed. Negotiators have moved from a 20-year agreement to what is in essence a 10-year agreement that allows Iran to simultaneously continue development of an advanced ballistic missile program and research and development of advanced centrifuges. This also will allow Iran’s economy to be restored with billions of dollars returned to its coffers, a development that administration officials concede will be used at some level to export terrorism in the region.
I am alarmed by recent reports that your team may be considering allowing the deal to erode even further. Only you and those at the table know whether there is any truth to these allegations, and I hope reports indicating potential concessions on inspections and on the full disclosure of Iran’s possible military dimensions (PMDs) are inaccurate.
Regarding inspections, surely your administration and those involved in the negotiations will adhere to an “anytime, anywhere” standard. No bureaucratic committees. No moving the ball. No sites off limits.
You have publicly acknowledged Iran’s long history of covert nuclear activity. We all are aware of the importance of having a full understanding of Iran’s nuclear program, including PMDs of those activities as part of any agreement. Yet, recently I have heard of a potential cumbersome process where the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), with no confirmation from Iran, will make PMD determinations about Iran’s nuclear program in order to protect Iran’s national pride, meaning Iran will not have to publicly admit to these activities. Today, the IAEA cannot get access to information Iran agreed to share pursuant to a 2013 agreement. By not requiring Iran to explicitly disclose their previous weaponization efforts on the front end of any final agreement, we will likely never know, in a timely fashion, the full extent of Iranian capabilities.
I understand the dynamics that can develop when a group believes they are close to a deal and how your aides may view this as a major legacy accomplishment. However, as you know, the stakes here are incredibly high and the security implications of these negotiations are difficult to overstate. As your team continues their work, if Iran tries to cross these few remaining red lines, I would urge you to please pause and consider rethinking the entire approach. Walking away from a bad deal at this point would take courage, but it would be the best thing for the United States, the region and the world.
One hopes that Corker’s colleagues are paying attention and that they are ready to prevent a catastrophic deal.