America is about to face what could be the most impactful decision of our generation. Will the proposed nuclear agreement sufficiently prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapons program; or, are we only delaying their weapons program while giving a $150 billion boost to their research fund?
In reviewing the nuclear accord, Americans should ask: If we were neighbors with Iran, would I feel safe with this agreement? Fortunately for us, we have a Middle Eastern ally qualified to answer that question.
To better understand the impact of this agreement, I traveled to Israel with a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders during the August recess. I met with elected officials and everyday families, entrepreneurs and enlisted troops, Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Each group expressed concerns that this deal would provide Iran with a pathway to a nuclear bomb.
Why should we listen to Israel’s opinion on the Iran deal? Because of our many shared values: Respect for religious rights, a strong commitment to maintaining a diverse democracy, and support for economic and individual freedoms. In contrast, Iran’s Supreme Leader has refused to reject the calls of protestors who chant, “Death to America! Death to Israel!”
In fact, during the same time that Iranian diplomats negotiated with the world about their “peaceful nuclear programs,” Iran’s Revolutionary Guard gave tens of millions of dollars to the terrorist
group Hamas. I met Israeli families living near the West Bank who face the possibility of an unexpected mortar as an everyday fact of life because of groups like Hamas. No one is cheering louder for the nuclear accord and its sanctions relief than the enemies of Israel.
If Iran and Hamas win, Israel loses.
Past American partnerships have meant an increase in safety for Israeli families – not a liability. This was most evident to me when we surveyed the Iron Dome missile defense system. American support and Israeli ingenuity have built the only operational missile defense system with a consistent record of stopping mid-air attacks. As the United States helps to save Israeli lives, Iran funds the very rockets Hamas uses to attack them.
While there is much to consider about this deal, the United States should listen carefully to our ally Israel as we navigate a world they know all too well. The rise of an aggressive nuclear nation in anyone’s backyard should cause any of us concern.
We shouldn’t be fooled into thinking this is a question of party politics, either. As Senator Robert Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has pointed out: This deal provides “permanent relief in exchange for short-term promises.”
If passed, Iran needs to “play by the rules” for 10 or 15 years until they can have an internationally approved nuclear research program. Iran will then be a mere three months away from building a nuclear weapon. For an ideological war that has been waging for centuries, 15 years is no time to wait at all.