Iran must never be allowed to become a nuclear threat to the world. Not today. Not 10 or 15 years from now. Never.
The Iranian regime is a known sponsor of terrorism that has made no secret of its hatred for both the Unites States and Israel. Providing relief for them by lifting economic sanctions now essentially rewards past behavior and infuses billions of dollars into the their economy that could be used to buy more weapons and outsource more terror. Moreover, the deal does not provide enough assurance that Iran will be restricted from developing or acquiring nuclear weapons. So this windfall may ultimately help fund their nuclear ambitions.
In April, prior to the announcement of a deal, I wrote a letter to President Barack Obama, voicing my concerns over the negotiations with Iran and missed deadlines. In it, I outlined my belief that an acceptable deal would be long-term and fully transparent, and would provide for the dismantling of Iran's nuclear program verified by intrusive inspections in exchange for phased sanctions relief. Unfortunately, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action falls short in each of these criteria.
For these reasons, I cannot in good conscience endorse this deal.
Even though I applaud the Obama administration and other world powers that worked diligently on a diplomatic solution, the deal ultimately falls short of the guarantees necessary to assure the American people that it will do more good than harm.
During the 60-day congressional review period of the deal, I met twice with Obama, including a briefing inside the White House Situation Room. I was also briefed by Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and senior members of the U.S. Department of Defense. As a member of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, I had the opportunity to review classified documents related to the Iran nuclear deal multiple times and as recently as last Friday.
Earlier this month, I traveled to Israel as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation. During the trip, I received a two-hour-long briefing from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, met with Israeli Knesset members, military officers and Israeli citizens.
I, as well as my staff in Washington and at the 1st Congressional District office in Cherry Hill, have met and continue to meet with constituents both in favor and against the deal.
I’ve listened. I’ve studied the issues. And after careful consideration, I must vote against this deal.
We all know no deal is perfect or iron-clad. I’m not looking for perfection, but I do believe that a better deal can be achieved. We have not exhausted all efforts. Diplomacy has worked and can continue to work. That’s why I urge all parties back to the bargaining table so we can continue a dialogue that can help us achieve an accord that ensures a nuclear-free Iran and a safer world. To that end, I promise to work with congressional leaders to foster more diplomatic action.
Donald Norcross represents New Jersey’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.