Nothing is more important than my country’s security, and by extension, the safeguarding and security of our most critically important ally in the Middle East, Israel.
For that reason, I was proud to be the first Jewish American ever to serve on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, where I offered unwavering support for America’s and Israel’s security and the cause of peace.
And it is from that perspective that I support the nuclear agreement with Iran.
The accord lengthens the time that Iran would need to develop enough enriched uranium for one nuclear weapon from the present two months to one year. That’s one year for just one weapon.
That timeframe does not include the time needed to weaponize the material, attach it to a warhead, and then mount it on a long range missile, assuming that the missile was even capable of reaching a specific target. The international agreement cements those provisions, and keeps them in place for 15 years.
As for Iran’s existing nuclear program, the agreement requires Iran to cut its number of centrifuges — the devices used to enrich uranium gas — from 19,000 to 6,000, to reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium from about 10,000 kilograms to a mere 300, and to limit uranium enrichment to 3.67 percent, the amount needed for a nuclear power plant, as opposed to the 90 percent needed for a nuclear weapon.
The document contains these words: “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.”
So why is there opposition to this deal?
To put it mildly, Iran’s track record of keeping its word in international agreements is less than stellar. It is therefore understandable that some policymakers would be skeptical of any arrangement with Iran.
But the United States and its negotiating partners were sensitive to such skepticism — and in fact shared it — which is why the agreement contains unprecedented verification provisions. Despite real concerns emanating from some quarters, unobserved cheating under this deal is as close to impossible as has existed in any such accord.
For instance, there will be 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week International Atomic Energy Agency presence and inspection capabilities at every known location where any facet of uranium enrichment or weaponization now is taking place.
As for newly discovered sites or places where Iran might attempt a breach, the deal allows for immediate notification to the world community via the IAEA or others, constant “eyes on” such locations (creating an opportunity for interested parties to take any necessary military action), and a re-imposition of sanctions.
In other words, the agreement provides strict prohibitions designed to stop and set back Iran’s nuclear weapons program, without relying on an ounce of trust towards Iran.
Some critics are suggesting that the agreement should be shot down not for what it contains but for what it doesn’t.
True, it does not address Iran’s odious statements toward Israel or its abhorrent behavior as a sponsor of terror. There are, however, existing U.N. sanctions against such Iranian activity that can serve as the basis for greater enforcement of those sanctions and possible military action.
Just as President Reagan chose not to condition his nuclear arms treaty with the then-Soviet Union on the Soviets withdrawing support for rogue or terrorist regimes in various parts of the world, President Obama rightly chose to focus on the singular goal of halting Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
As always, we must, by diplomatic words and military actions if necessary, demonstrate to Iran that — while this nuclear deal may be done — the world will not tolerate Iran’s support of murderous regimes and thugs against America or our allies.
Simply put, this deal will, if carried out with the appropriate level of inspections and vigilance, eliminate a nuclear-armed Iran and enhance the safety of the United States, our ally and friend Israel, and the entire world community.
Steven Rothman, a Democrat, was an eight-term member of the House of Representatives from New Jersey. He now practices law at Sills, Cummis & Gross, P.C. in Newark. The views expressed in this essay are his own and not necessarily those of his firm.