CONGRESSMAN SANFORD BISHOP STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF IRAN NUCLEAR AGREEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) released the following statement regarding his support of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) relating to the nuclear program of Iran:
WHY I SUPPORT THE IRAN NUCLEAR AGREEMENT
After careful review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), analysis by experts pro and con, consultation with advocates from AIPAC, and prayerful consideration, I have concluded that the JCPOA is a strong, verifiable agreement which, if implemented, provides the best available option, short of military action, to prevent Iran from securing a nuclear weapon.
Israel is our nation’s closest friend in the Middle East and one of our nation’s key allies. Our relationship is based on shared democratic values, mutual respect, and our Judeo-Christian heritage. I have witnessed first-hand Israel’s remarkable culture, innovation, entrepreneurship, and patriotism, especially when I traveled to the Holy Land.
Drawing from my experience as a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans’ Affairs, I have an acute appreciation for the tremendous security challenges Israel and its people face as the nation seeks to survive and thrive in a very hostile neighborhood. Consequently, I have always supported funding for Israel’s missile defense programs; a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through direct and bilateral talks; and efforts such as the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013 to promote closer military, scientific, and economic ties between our two countries.
Moreover, I have consistently supported international sanctions against Iran, not merely to inflict economic hardships on the government and people of Iran because of their anti-American, anti-Israeli, and anti-Semitic conduct, but to ultimately bring Iran to the negotiating table to deter its nuclear weapons program, which poses a real and grave threat to Israel, the United States, and the entire world.
Because the threat of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon is so ominous, our country was able to persuade a multitude of nations to join us, albeit reluctantly, in imposing these severe sanctions which have effectively brought Iran to the negotiation table regarding its nuclear weapons program. On July 14, 2015, negotiators from Iran, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China, along with the European Union, announced completion of a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran – the JCPOA.
The JCPOA requires that the full extent of the Iran nuclear program will be under constant surveillance – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for at least 15 years, which is the strongest nuclear non-proliferation monitoring agency anywhere in the world. Even after 15 years, Iran will be permanently obligated to follow all international Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty requirements. Monitoring of the most sensitive parts of Iran’s nuclear program will continue indefinitely.
The JCPOA affirms that under no circumstance will Iran ever seek, develop, or acquire any nuclear weapons. It also places severe restrictions on Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities, dismantles its plutonium production capabilities, and provides the IAEA access to all known and potential covert sites.
If Iran complies with the JCPOA, international sanctions will be lifted and Iranian funds frozen in foreign banks will be released. However, if Iran violates the agreement, sanctions will snap back into place and all options – including the use of military force – will remain available to the United States, Israel, and our allies to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. These options will only be strengthened by the intelligence gathered from the IAEA monitoring and inspections, as well as by the vast array of U.S. intelligence assets across the region and the world.
The JCPOA is not perfect. Neither side got everything they wanted. And a skeptical international community has deep concerns about Iran’s long and nefarious record of human rights violations, financing of terrorism, hostility to Israel and the United States, as well as its destabilizing role throughout the Middle East.
Many Americans, Israelis, and other allies have serious doubts as to whether Iran will actually comply with the terms of the JCPOA, and believe Iran cannot be trusted. I share these concerns. But the JCPOA is not based on trust but on verification through constant monitoring.
While intense inspections by the IAEA under the agreement are not sufficient to satisfy some critics, over 70 nuclear non-proliferation experts such as former Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar; Generals Brent Scrowcroft and Colin Powell; 29 top U.S. scientists; 440 Rabbis; more than 60 former Israeli Security Officials; over 50 Christian leaders; and more than 100 former U.S. Ambassadors have endorsed the agreement publically. The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to support the JCPOA as well.
From a practical perspective, it makes little sense for the United States to walk away from the JCPOA given the broad diplomatic consensus and lack of reasonable alternatives to rolling back Iran’s nuclear program. Our negotiating partners, who had reluctantly agreed to sanctions in the first place, have said in no uncertain terms that a better deal with Iran under current circumstances cannot be found. In fact, if the U.S. were to now reject the agreement, the broad international support currently in favor of sanctions would disappear, the guarantee of nuclear inspections would vanish, and our nation’s diplomatic stature in the world would be greatly diminished.
To be sure, it is vital that the JCPOA be backed by a strong commitment to ensuring that Iran remains in full compliance or face overwhelming military force. Current intelligence confirms that Iran is within months of developing nuclear weapons capability. Under no circumstances should Iran ever be allowed to pursue a nuclear weapon. Yet, before military action is pursued, I firmly believe that our nation must, as it has through the JCPOA, exhaust all of its diplomatic options and give peace a chance.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Waging peace is hard and requires far more than trust and good intentions. It requires verification and transparency, which this agreement more than provides. For these reasons, I will support the JCPOA and OPPOSE the passage of H. J. Res. 64, disapproving of the agreement transmitted to Congress by the President on July 19, 2015 relating to the nuclear program of Iran.