Dear Congressman Reed,
You sent out an email on July 24 explaining why you were going to vote to reject the Iran deal. You wrote:
I am concerned this deal with Iran is not only too lenient on a leading state sponsor of terror but also lifts sanctions against high profile Iranian terrorists. Even worse, this deal does not bring back the four American citizens who are being unjustly held captive in Iran.
Giving weapons and cash to Iran in exchange for empty promises is no way to protect America. The bottom line is that this agreement allows Iran to become a nuclear state. A nuclear Iran is just unacceptable to the American people and the world.
Iran is already a nuclear state and has been for years. The key to American national security is to prevent it from getting a nuclear BOMB. That is why 36 retired Admirals and Generals wrote:
There is no better option to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon. Military action would be less effective than the deal, assuming it is fully implemented. If the Iranians cheat, our advanced technology, intelligence and the inspections will reveal it, and U.S. military options remain on the table. And if the deal is rejected by America, the Iranians could have a nuclear weapon within a year. The choice is that stark.
We agree with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, who said on July 29, 2015, “[r]elieving the risk of a nuclear conflict with Iran diplomatically is superior than trying to do that militarily.”
If at some point it becomes necessary to consider military action against Iran, gathering sufficient international support for such an effort would only be possible if we have first given the diplomatic path a chance. We must exhaust diplomatic options before moving to military ones.
As Brent Scowcroft said in his August 21 letter to the Washington Post, the Iran deal is one of those very rare "epochal moments that should not be squandered."
But it is not just American Admirals and Generals who favor the deal. A fair number of Israeli national security experts think it's a good idea as well. Daniel Levy provided a brief summary in Foreign Affairs:
In contrast to Netanyahu and his allies, the country’s experts are focused on the specific merits of the deal, and they generally like what they see. The preeminent nuclear expert, Uzi Even—who is a former lieutenant colonel in the Israeli Defense Forces, a physics professor, and a former senior scientist at the Dimona nuclear reactor—concluded in a detailed analysis that “the deal was written by nuclear experts and blocks every path I know to the bomb.” Meanwhile, Yitzhak Ben-Israel, a former general and chair of the Israeli Space Agency and National Council for Research and Development, called the agreement “good for Israel.” Former Mossad Chief Efraim Halevy describes Iran as having signed on to “an invasive and unique supervision regime like no other in the world” in an agreement that “includes components that are crucial for Israel's security.” They have been joined by other former heads of Israel’s security branches, who, in their dissent, have highlighted concerns that Netanyahu’s scare-mongering will negatively impact Israel’s standing, its deterrent posture, and its national resilience.
Even more significantly, according to a news report in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot, the intelligence branch of the Israeli Defense Forces and the Mossad told senior Israeli decision makers that they believed that the nuclear deal is a “reasonable agreement, and even a good agreement in that it includes the means to make it possible to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons in the coming decade.” Perhaps not surprisingly, none of the ex-security chiefs who support the deal have been invited to testify in the Knesset or even to brief the opposition factions.
There are other Israeli national security experts who either favor the deal or say the deal is one that Israel can live with. Though he shares some of the same reservations about the deal that you have, Former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon concluded that the deal was "the best possible alternative from Israel's point of view, given the other available alternatives."
There are plenty of other experts I could cite as well, but for the sake of brevity I refer you to a previous post on my website.
The main problem with your approach is that you seem to consider all the adverse results that could jeopardize our national security if we accept the deal but you do not weigh them against the adverse results that would could jeopardize our national security if we reject the deal. Do you think we can just negotiate a better deal? Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolt is one of the most ardent OPPONENTS of the deal and yet he says the idea of renegotiating the deal is nonsense. Here is what he wrote in his Los Angeles Times July 6 op-ed piece.
Some critics of Obama's plan advocate scuttling the deal and increasing economic sanctions against Iran instead. They are dreaming. Iran and the United States' negotiating partners have already signed the accords and are straining at their leashes to implement them. There will be no other "better deal." As for sanctions, they were already too weak to prevent Iran's progress toward the bomb, and they will not be reset now. To paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, "These sanctions are going boys, and they ain't coming back."
If we reject the deal then the only way to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon, should they decide to do so, is to go to war with them. Unfortunately, even going to war with Iran will only delay it from getting nuclear weapons--it won't prevent them from getting them forever. And they will be a very angry Iran when they do get them. And what's worse, attacking Iran could open the door for ISIS to get their hands on a nuclear weapon. I explained how in my open letter to Senator Schumer.
Finally, you may be tempted to reject the deal because you have heard of an AP report that that a side deal between the IAEA and Iran would let Iran inspect itself. This was misleading for several reasons. First, the AP report did not mention that this self-inspection only referred to the Parchin facility and nowhere else in Iran. Second, it did not mention that the self-inspection at Parchin was only to clear up questions about activities that occurred before 2004 and had little bearing on whether Iran could develop a bomb in the future. Third, the IAEA has denied the accuracy of the report. Fourth, Cheryl Rofer, an expert who has worked on nuclear issues, including environmental sampling issues, at the Los Alamos National Laboratory for 35 years notes that the document on which the AP built its story is incomplete at best. She said she would expect such a document to include a sampling plan for Parchin inspections that detailed how the IAEA would maintain an appropriate chain of custody for the samples. Since the document was missing this plan she concluded that it "could be a very early draft or extended outline of what the agreement might be." Rofer also discussed how the IAEA could oversee the sampling procedure even if it did not have direct access to the site or buildings.
Verification experts, armed with cameras and ingenuity, have come up with ways to observe from a distance. On the day of the activity, they might start with a shopping trip that includes IAEA and Iranian personnel. The group goes to a camera store and buys shrink-wrapped memory cards for the still and video cameras. Then they go to, say, a handicrafts store and buy a small and unique object, maybe a toy. The memory cards are inserted into the cameras in the presence of both groups, and the cameras are sealed with a tamper-indicating seal. Every photograph must include the unique toy.
IAEA personnel then go with Iranian personnel to the closest point to the site that Iran allows. IAEA personnel remain there while the Iranians go to the building or soil sampling site. Real-time video may be sent out to the IAEA monitors from the cameras, along with GPS data to make sure samples are being taken in the correct places. Iran completes the activity and hands the samples and cameras to the IAEA, who check the seals. The group may then convene in a meeting room to review the photos or video to make sure they are as expected, with the unique toy ever present.
And fifth, there are indications that the document on which the AP built its story may have been FORGED like the letter that supposedly showed that Saddam Hussein was importing 500 tons of Uranium a year from Niger. That forged letter was partially responsible for snookering us into a disastrous war in Iraq. You should be extremely cautious about putting any weight into a possibly forged letter designed to set us on a likely course to war with Iran.
I realize that some of your biggest donors are pushing you to reject the deal. It is time to put what is best for your campaign coffers aside and vote for what is best for this country. Vote YES for the Iran nuclear deal.