CRAPO STATEMENT AT HEARING TO EXAMINE "JOINT PLAN OF ACTION" WITH IRAN
December 12, 2013
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, today delivered the following remarks during a Banking Committee hearing in which members heard from administration officials regarding the P5+1 interim nuclear agreement with Iran:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding today’s hearing on the nuclear agreement with Iran. This hearing provides us the opportunity to consider the administration’s perspective on negotiations, and perhaps it may better understand ours as well.
Congressional sanctions, designed in a completely bipartisan fashion, have successfully worked to bring Iran to the negotiating table. We must maintain that leverage going forward.
The impact of sanctions on Iran’s economy is dramatic. In just the last two years, Iran’s oil exports dropped by about 60 percent to roughly 1 million barrels a day; its gross domestic product shrunk by 6 percent, while inflation shot up to 45 percent and to even higher levels on certain products; and unemployment currently hovers around the 35 percent mark.
Iran faced a stark choice early this year: continue to live under dire economic circumstances that would only worsen, or dismantle its entire nuclear program in an effort to regain control over its economy.
In recent weeks, our witnesses returned from Geneva to present us with an agreed upon “Joint Plan of Action” among the P5+1 and Iran. As the ink lie drying on the agreement, voices in Congress, and from among certain allies and friends, could immediately be heard raising objections and expressions of support alike.
Most troubling is the reticence and concern our good friend Israel has with the deal. It is Israel, after all, who mainly faces the litany of existential threats made by Iran.
For my part, I was very disappointed to learn that the release of Idaho’s own Pastor Saeed Abedini, and other Americans unjustly held by the regime, were not made part of the deal. I could not imagine a better confidence-building measure on Iran’s part than for the regime to reflect some degree of humanity and principled justice by releasing these brave Americans. As the administration embarks toward a final agreement, every effort must be made to bring Pastor Abedini and his fellow Americans home where they belong.
I have several concerns with the “Plan of Action” we have been presented with. Language in the Plan is vague on how the freeze, roll back and sanctions relief work together. The Plan also has certain defects regarding enrichment and verification.
I worry that both the current Plan and final agreement will permit Iran to maintain its enrichment program, rather than direct it to join some 19 other nations who purchase all of their nuclear fuel from traditional suppliers. I also worry that the Plan does not seem to curtail Iran’s development of advanced ballistic missiles, which again is troubling in conjunction with its enrichment program.
This is a nation that will require the strictest monitoring and most aggressive diplomacy on terrorism and human rights violations for decades to come. There can be no question about what we expect of Tehran. Iran cannot be allowed even the possibility of nuclear weaponization in the context of its history of other destabilizing activities.
The eventual lifting of “nuclear-related” sanctions in a final deal also raises a number of questions: First, which sanctions are to be defined specifically as “nuclear-related?” Second, how will those sanctions be separated from a complex web of sanctions intended to address Iran’s sponsorship of terrorists, human rights violations and certain kinds of advanced ballistic missiles? This lack of clarity may hamstring future U.S. policy options necessary to address Iran’s destabilizing activities.
I hope that today’s witnesses can better clarify what precisely the mutual understanding is with Iran. Sanctions clearly worked to bring Iran to the negotiating table. I remain convinced that we must maintain that leverage moving forward.
The United States must continue to vigorously enforce the existing core sanctions architecture and develop a sanctions plan of action in the event that negotiations do not produce the result diplomats want.
Should diplomacy fail in its mission to effectively control the apparent extent of the Iranian nuclear program, whether six months or a year down the road, there simply is no time available to waste then on crafting bills or executive orders.
The U.S. must maintain existing multilateral sanctions pressure, and Congress and the administration each need to prepare now for the possibility that an effective, final comprehensive agreement may not be reached.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.