Since the international community agreed four weeks ago on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, I have spent many hours evaluating it and consulting with my constituents, technical experts, security officials and diplomats from around the world. As a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I have reviewed classified intelligence and our capabilities for monitoring compliance with the JCPOA. After careful thought, I have decided to support the JCPOA.
There are no perfect answers or easy solutions in the Middle East – only choices with varying levels of risk associated with them. International agreements with one’s foes are as fraught with potential pitfalls as they are with opportunity. The Iranian regime has shown itself to be untrustworthy and destabilizing. It is today a nuclear threshold state. The JCPOA offers something that no other alternative offers: the strong possibility of at least a 15 year period in which there is little or no risk that we are surprised by the test of an Iranian nuclear weapon. That possibility is a considerable improvement over the status quo.
Critics of the JCPOA raise a number of fair objections that deserve careful consideration. I have met twice with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer to hear these objections at length. But the critics’ predictions for how Iran will behave in 15 years are no more substantiated than other predictions for what the Middle East may look like in the future. Despite weeks of consideration, I do not agree that walking away from our own painstakingly negotiated deal would lead to anything other than the crumbling of hard-won international unity, the lifting of sanctions, an uncertain Iranian response, and an increased probability of an imminently nuclear Iran.
Over the course of my public service I have watched with great sadness the hundreds of billions of dollars spent and the thousands of lives lost to achieve chaotic outcomes whenever we have forsaken diplomacy in the dangerous crescent from Libya to Iraq to Afghanistan. Though not without risk, the JCPOA offers the possibility of a different and better outcome for the United States, Israel, and the rest of the world.