Iran Must Be Denied Nuclear Weapons Capabilityby Senator Dan Coats on March 18, 2015
For the past seven years, both in and out of Congress, I have been involved in efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons capability.
Merely announcing that Iran cannot be allowed to get a nuclear weapon is not enough. Iran must not develop even the technical capability to manufacture such a weapon. A nuclear weapons capable Iran is as dangerous as a nuclear armed Iran, because it throws up a cloud of ambiguity about Iran’s actual intentions.
There are many who find a mistaken sense of comfort in the view that Iran has not yet made a formal decision to develop a nuclear weapon. This is a delusion.
Iran's industrial-strength uranium enrichment enterprise has gone from 800 centrifuges nine years ago, when the international community first expressed alarm, to 19,000 now. We know the Ayatollah is on a quest for 190,000 as soon as international constraints are removed.
The Iranian pursuit of uranium enrichment is not for the manufacturing of medical isotopes and reactor fuel. Its purpose is to produce nuclear bombs.
I have long called for using the full range of tools to prevent Iran from reaching its nuclear goal. These include negotiations, coupled with ever-increasing sanctions pressure, and a credible threat of the use of military force if the negotiations and sanctions fail to lead to Iran’s commitment to cease its pursuit of nuclear weapons capability.
Over the past few weeks, there has been a lot of discussion about the Obama Administration's ongoing negotiations with Iran and what the role of Congress should be on this subject. A settlement of issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program is of paramount importance to the security of the American people and the world.
Any proposed agreement requires thorough review and deliberation by Congress. On an issue of such vast significance, an agreement requires a bipartisan consensus and mutual support by both the executive and legislative branches of our government.
All Senate Republicans, and I believe many Senate Democrats, are in agreement on the overall objective of avoiding a bad deal with Iran. A bill introduced by Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) that would require Congress to approve any deal with Iran is close to achieving the support of the 67 or more senators needed to overturn President Obama's promised veto.
Any agreement with Iran that allows restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program to be time-limited must be rejected, and any agreement with Iran that does not impose permanent restraints on their nuclear ambitions is no agreement at all. Without these provisions, Iran will have the wealth, technical expertise, industrial infrastructure, and, if given a sunset provision, the international acquiescence to do whatever it likes.
Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons capability is an issue of such historic consequence and potential harm that the Senate must work together to ensure the ability to undo what may be coming our way. I am urging my Senate colleagues, Republican and Democrats, to rise above any political considerations and work together to ensure Iran is prevented from getting the bomb.
Lack of bipartisan consensus at this moment is likely to lead to a fatally flawed deal that destroys more than a decade of effort to bring Iran to cease its goal of nuclear weapons capability.
Sen. Dan Coats is a Republican from Indiana.