On Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard testimony from Amb. Robert G. Joseph, Ph.D, currently Senior Scholar at the National Institute for Public Policy, formerly Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, and the person who in 2003 led the nuclear negotiations with Libya. He testified the Iran deal is a “bad agreement” with “five fatal flaws”: (1) it does not effectively detect cheating unless Iran decides to do it openly, and Iran is more likely to cheat at military bases where it has cheated in the past and has ruled out inspections in the future; (2) it leaves a large‐scale nuclear infrastructure in place that could be used to break out, or more likely “sneak‐out,” and then permits a significantly expanded program with a “virtually zero” breakout time; (3) it has “snap‐back” provisions that are illusory; (4) the purported 12-month breakout time is ineffective, since, unless Iran breaks out openly, we will not even know when the clock begins,and months will go by while the U.S. debates internally what to do; and (5) Iran is permitted to continue work on long-range ballistic missiles that have no use other than eventual deployment of nuclear weapons. His conclusion is stark:
[The deal] assumes that permitting Iran a large‐scale enrichment capability is compatible with the goal of denying Iran the ability to produce weapons‐grade fissile material; it assumes that the twelve month breakout time is meaningful; it assumes that the agreement will be effectively verifiable; and it assumes that the United States and the international community will respond to evidence of cheating before Iran can mate a nuclear weapon to a ballistic missile. None of these assumptions holds up under scrutiny. As a result, the threat to the U.S. homeland and to our NATO allies of an Iran armed with nuclear tipped ballistic missiles will increase not decrease under the anticipated agreement. [Emphasis added].
And that is even before considering the risks of proliferation in the region, the existential threat to Israel, seriously frayed relations with Arab allies, and the vastly increased resources for Iran and its allies to establish a game-changing hegemony in a vital strategic area of the world.
Amb. Joseph is not simply an independent expert but one with considerable real-world experience, not only with Libya but with the North Korean fiasco. He testified Tuesday that in 2003 the United States insisted upon and got “anytime, anywhere” inspections in Libya — to all sites, declared and undeclared. It is a shame that Secretary of State Kerry never heard of such things before he went and negotiated an extraordinarily bad deal. Any senator who reads Amb. Joseph’s written testimony or listens to his answers to the committee’s questions will have a difficult time justifying a vote in favor of what Kerry brought back.