Congress should vote against Iran agreement

Jews throughout North America and the world have come out both for and against President Barack Obama’s historic attempt to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions and allow Iran to re-enter the international community. We appreciate the tremendous efforts of the president, as well as those of Secretary of State John Kerry to try to eliminate and verify the elimination of Iran’s nuclear program and aspirations.

Given Iran’s past history and current threats toward the United States, Israel and the Jewish people, we view this issue as an existential threat to Israel and the United States above the fray of partisan politics. Therefore, after exhaustive analysis and debate of this proposed agreement, we feel this effort, however noble, falls short on many grounds. Below are some of the specifics as to why we believe Congress should vote “no” on the president’s Iran agreement.

First, in President Obama’s own words, “A final agreement with Iran must put into place a long-term inspections and verification regime that lasts at least 20 years.” This agreement relaxes curbs on nuclear activity and inspections after 10 years, potentially allowing for a nuclear Iran and a nuclear arms race in the region within one decade’s time.

Second, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., objects to this agreement, explaining that inspections of nuclear sites must be “anytime, anywhere” and be able to occur on a moment’s notice. He states, and we agree, that allowing Iran to consult on the terms of its own inspections and to delay those inspections up to 24 days renders the verification process toothless and pointless.

Third, the relaxation of sanctions should be a benefit to Iran for observing the terms of this agreement. However, sanctions are lifted and a reported $150 billion in frozen assets are given to Iran immediately upon the signing of the treaty. Sanctions relief and asset repatriation should be phased in as the terms of the agreement are observed and verified.

Fourth, this agreement assumes that the only threat Iran poses to the region and the world is a nuclear one. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Before the ink on this agreement was even dry, Iran reportedly was working with Russia and China to spend its treaty windfall upgrading its intercontinental ballistic missile, surface-to-air missile and fighter jet capabilities. Iran’s arming of regional revolutionary and terrorist proxies such as Hamas and Hezbollah surrounding Israel, and the Houthis in Yemen, are a grave threat to regional stability and vital American allies. Iran’s role as regional troublemaker must somehow be addressed as a condition of relaxing sanctions.

As a part of these negotiations, one would hope Iran at least expressed interest in curbing revolutionary and terrorist activities, agreed that Israel has the right to exist and promised to immediately end calls for “Death to America.” Repeated attempts to send missiles and armaments to Hamas and Hezbollah and to establish missile batteries in Southern Syria certainly show Iran’s true objectives. Sadly, a 10-year nuclear freeze does not counterbalance the havoc a newly invigorated, enriched and re-armed Iran will wreak if this agreement is signed.

We strongly encourage everyone in Nevada, not just the Jewish community, to call our United States senators and representatives to vote against this dangerous and short-sighted treaty.

— Marla Letizia is vice chair and Michael Rosenblum is treasurer of the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas.

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