Rep. Kathleen Rice (D – N.Y.) announced today that she will vote against the nuclear deal with Iran. She is the fourth Democratic representative to announce her opposition to the deal. She explained her reasoning in an op-ed in the 5 Towns Jewish Times.
It’s inarguable that Iran’s top policy priority is to obtain a nuclear weapon. Our top policy priority in this region is to prevent them from achieving that goal. If we are to believe this is a good deal for our interests, then we must believe that Iran has either entered into a deal against its interests, or that Iranian priorities have changed. The former would be illogical and we’ve seen no evidence of the latter. The only alternative conclusion is that Iran believes this deal does not compromise their agenda – and that’s deeply problematic.
This deal represents a pause, not an end, to Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon. While no deal or action – whether economic, diplomatic, or military – can ensure a disarmed Iran in perpetuity, this deal’s search for peace seems too willing to gamble on social progress in Iran, especially when Iranian leaders show little interest in helping to foster it – and even less in becoming anything near a responsible ally in the region. Here, the President is displaying an admirable political vision and optimism, but I just don’t trust the progress of that social experiment enough to pay the cost of this gamble’s security risk.
And the fact that sanctions can snap back into place if Iran cheats doesn’t give me enough confidence to counter that risk. The sanctions we imposed on Iran that proved successful were only successful over time. No matter how quickly we can re-impose these measures in the event we catch Iran cheating, it will take years to recreate the economic pressure that we know influences their decision making.
Rice pointed out a number of other weaknesses in the deal, including the lack of “anytime, anywhere” inspections and the fact that violations of the deal, and the penalties for such violations, are poorly defined. That ambiguity, wrote Rice, “gives me little confidence that Iran will be sufficiently deterred from bending – if not breaking – the rules of the pact,” while continuing to reap the benefits of sanctions relief.
Rice also criticized the deal for granting Iran legitimacy without insisting on “Iranian concessions on its sponsorship of terror.” She also objected to the argument that the only alternative to the deal is war, writing that if sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table, “then why wouldn’t continued political and economic pressure improve our leverage in forcing Iran to agree to a better deal?” The goal, she argued, should have been to force Iran into “giving up its nuclear arms ambition, and renouncing and defunding its terror tentacles in the region and abroad.”
Rice summed up her objections by saying that the deal “is a risk I cannot support. It’s a gift of political legitimacy and economic empowerment that requires too little Iranian maturation across too little of its dangerous agenda. For the sake of peace, we can do better.”
Rice is the fourth Democratic member of Congress to go on record opposing the Iranian nuclear deal, joining Representatives Juan Vargas (D – Calif.), Grace Meng (D – N.Y.) and Albio Sires (D – N.J.). All three are current or recent members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In addition, former New York Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman added his voice in opposition to the deal over the weekend.