President Ronald Reagan’s rule of arms control was “trust, but verify.”
The current negotiators with Iran have lost sight of this credo, and in doing so, have put future generations throughout the world in a dangerous nuclear shadow.
Simply put, the current nuclear agreement with Iran is a bad deal. It will not work, and one need only look at past negotiations with North Korea to see that its proponents have not learned from history.
In 1994, the United States entered into an agreed nuclear framework with North Korea aimed at curbing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Our country agreed to provide billions of dollars in aid; in return, North Korea would agree to freeze its nuclear programs.
Twelve years later – with a blatant disregard for inspections and the agreement, and after accepting billions from the United States – North Korea successfully tested its first nuclear weapon.
A number of things went wrong.
The agreement with North Korea called only for a freeze in enriching uranium to weapon-ready levels, not a complete dismantling of nuclear facilities. It also did not call for an immediate halt to nuclear weaponization activities, including the delivery systems for those weapons. It allowed these activities to be considered mutually exclusive from nuclear proliferation, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
While secretly developing a nuclear arsenal, North Korea time and time again turned away inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency – the organization responsible for keeping an eye on nuclear facilities and activities under the agreed-upon deal.
Today, because of a bad deal, North Korea holds in its hands the ability to terrorize the world with threats and – God forbid – the launch of a nuclear weapon.
Sound familiar? It should, because the same scenario is currently repeating itself in Iran.
In the current negotiations, Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would remain in place. In fact, Iran would not be required to dismantle a single centrifuge. Much like the failed North Korean deal, this scheme does not limit Iran’s weaponization activities or delivery systems development.
The similarities between the current Iran nuclear deal with the bad North Korean nuclear deal should be a warning sign.
Military sites throughout Iran are off limits to international inspectors. And, Iran could put in place a 24-day delay, allowing time to cover up illegal nuclear operations.
On these dimensions, the Iranian nuclear framework sounds a lot like the nuclear debacle in North Korea. So what’s next?
Our initial action is clear: America must reject the Iranian nuclear framework. Rejecting the framework, however, isn’t enough – we learned that in North Korea.
Second, we need to re-institute sanctions against Iran and international companies who do business with Iran. Third, diplomacy should continue – but not with a blind-eye to the lessons of the past. Renewed talks with Iran should seek to rollback Iran’s nuclear capacity, include weaponization activities and be verified with anytime-anywhere inspections. Finally, a real military threat to destroy Iranian nuclear targets is our last line of defense.
It goes without saying that “those who cannot learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.”
And with all deference to President Reagan – with matters of nuclear negotiations with rogue nations who would do us harm, I would adopt the motto of “trust, verify and carry a big stick.”
Steve Stivers (R-OH) represents Ohio’s 15th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.