Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth Statement in Support of Iran Nuclear Deal

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-08) released the following statement in support of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding Iran’s nuclear program:

“This week I will vote to support the JCPOA. This is a vote with enormous consequences for U.S. national security interests. I did not make my decision lightly. Over the past few weeks I spent many hours reading and reviewing the agreement and its classified annex. I received briefings from the Administration and national security, intelligence and non-proliferation experts. I had many discussions with stakeholders who hold passionate views on both sides of the argument and heard from hundreds of my constituents.   
     
I have no illusions about the authoritarian Iranian regime. Iran is our enemy, it is Israel’s enemy and it is the enemy of all nations that seek peace and stability. But Iran’s destabilizing role in the region would be much greater if it could obtain nuclear weapons. Therefore preventing a nuclear armed Iran must be our primary goal.

Unfortunately Iran is already a nuclear threshold state. It mastered the fuel cycle years ago, and such knowledge cannot be bombed or wished away. Our Nation’s leading nuclear scientists estimate Iran is 2-3 months away from enriching enough uranium to create a nuclear bomb.

While not perfect, I believe the nuclear agreement provides the United States and our allies with the most realistic and effective course of action currently available to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program. If implemented, the reduction of Iran’s nuclear stockpile and their enrichment capabilities will effectively shut down Iran’s nuclear program for 10 to 15 years. This will lengthen Iran’s breakout time from several months to a full year, removing its status as a nuclear threshold state.

The current Iranian regime must never be trusted. In reviewing the agreement’s text, one of my main concerns was ensuring that sanctions relief was not based on trust, but robust verification requirements and our ability to inflict real consequences should Iran violate any terms of the agreement. After careful review I’m confident that if Iran cheats, we will know. And more importantly, if Iran abandons the deal and pursues a nuclear weapon, we will stop them.

Ultimately I believe no better alternative course of action exists. More than 100 countries, including our negotiating partners and our closest historical allies are committed to the JCPOA, ready, and in some cases, already moving, to carry out their side of the bargain. Returning to the negotiating table by ourselves and without the support of the rest of the world is not a realistic option. Asserting that Iran would cheat on this deal, but not on some other deal is unrealistic. Declaring that Iran would cheat on any deal, so no deal is acceptable, is an irresponsible rejection of soft power as a means to achieve our ends. This is a carefully negotiated multilateral agreement and our global standing is at stake.  If the United States walks away from this agreement, we risk alienating our closest allies and losing their respect for us as a responsible and wise leader. That course of action would ultimately empower Iran.

We have an opportunity to achieve significant reductions in Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, and have gained unparalleled access to their country to ensure they fully comply with the terms of the deal. American diplomacy in cooperation with the efforts of our international partners, brought us this opportunity. To reject those efforts and abandon multi-lateral diplomacy would be irresponsible and ignore the lessons of the Iraq War. If we reject the negotiations and multinationalism, the likelihood for unilateral military action becomes greater. The United States must not send troops into harm’s way without exhausting all diplomatic options.

A military strike would also be less effective at curbing Iranian nuclear aspirations than this deal. Bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities would set back Iran’s nuclear program by a few years at best, compared to 10-15 years under the deal. Military force cannot be applied surgically, and there would be undesirable second and third order effects to such a strike. Unilateral military action would cost us a great deal of good will amongst our allies, and military experts caution that a pre-emptive strike would be extremely costly to the United States in terms of resources, the most precious of which are our men and women in uniform.

There are risks associated with this deal. I have serious concerns that as sanctions are eased, the release of oil revenue to Tehran will lead to greater threats to our regional allies, particularly Israel. Allies, such as Jordan, are struggling to deal with the harm caused by Iran’s terrorist proxies and its allies.  One needs to look no further than the Iranian-backed Assad regime and the heartbreaking humanitarian crisis that regime has caused, as evidence of their influence and the effect it has had on destabilizing an already fragile region. If Iran diverts even a fraction of oil revenue to finance terrorism and aggression, the damage could be significant. In the context of the deal, we must redouble our efforts to effectively counter Iranian aggression in the region. This includes intercepting illegal arms shipments, enhancing counter-terrorism initiatives and increasing military assistance to regional allies. As a Member of the Armed Services Committee, I will hold the Administration accountable for delivering on its promise to significantly enhance military, intelligence and security cooperation with Israel.”