A group of 32 senators from both parties unveiled a new Senate resolution Thursday that would establish the sense of the Congress that containing a nuclear Iran is not an option.
The resolution, which will be formally introduced later today, “strongly supports U.S. policy to prevent the Iranian government from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and rejects any policy that would rely on efforts to ‘contain’ a nuclear weapons capable Iran,” and “urges the president to reaffirm the unacceptability of an Iran with nuclear-weapons capability and oppose any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.”
A group of senators held a press conference Thursday on Capitol Hill to explain the thinking behind the resolution and reinforce its bipartisan character, including Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bob Casey (D-PA), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
While for the sake of bipartisan comity the group tried not to paint itself at odds with the administration, there would have been no need for such a resolution if senators were confident that the administration did not entertain thoughts of containing rather than pre-empting, a nuclear-armed Iran.
To a large degree, the resolution seems aimed at heading off those in the administration willing to engage in endless talks with the Iranian regime while the Iranian nuclear program makes steady progress. The resolution, for example, warns that “time is limited to prevent the Iranian government from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability,” and demands “complete cooperation with the IAEA on all outstanding questions related to Iran’s nuclear activities.”
The senators also pointed out that the U.S. has tried engagement. (“President Obama, through the P5+1 process, has made repeated efforts to engage the Iranian Government in dialogue about Iran’s nuclear program and its international commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.”)
But the resolution, as a bipartisan document seeking the broadest consensus, does not really get to the heart of the matter. There are two essential ingredients that are missing from administration policy and from the resolution as well.
First, the official policy of the U.S. must be regime change. It’s fanciful to keep decrying “human rights abuses occurring in the Islamic Republic of Iran, including torture, cruel and degrading treatment in detention, the targeting of human rights defenders, violence against women, and ‘the systematic and serious restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly’ as well as severe restrictions on the rights to ‘freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief’ ” without calling the regime illegitimate and pledging to support the aspirations of the Iranian people.
The essence of the regime is jihadist tyranny. It is not amenable to pleas to join the “family of nations.” It is not reformable, or capable of “moderation.” Other than military action or capitulation, the only way to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions, halt its state-sponsored terrorism and relieve the suffering of the Iranian people is regime change.
Second, the real danger now is that the administration will drift into negotiations with no preconditions, allowing Iran to continue merrily on its way toward acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability. Iran is certainly capable of stringing out such talks for months, allowing the country to achieve its nuclear ambitions while the West and the Iranian non-negotiators blather on in conference rooms in Europe (or wherever.)
An effective and honest resolution therefore would have declared:
Whereas the current Iranian regime is in violation of numerous international agreements, has promoted genocide, has committed multiple human rights atrocities and is a designated sponsor of state terrorism;
Whereas the government of Iran has plotted to kill a foreign diplomat on U.S soil; and
Whereas the Iranian regime has facilitated the deaths of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan;
Now therefore be it:
1. The official U.S. policy toward Iran should be regime change and the full support of the Iranian people for human rights, the rule of law and democracy;
2. The U.S. in conjunction with its allies prepare military options and plans to be used in the event Iran does not cease to pursue its nuclear weapons capability; and
3. Any discussions that the U.S. and its allies conduct with the Iranian regime shall be conditioned on a) inclusion of opposition leaders; b) full access by the IAEA and verifiable cessation of Iran’s missile program and c) agreement to discuss the Iranian regime’s abrogation of human rights.
In other words, talks should not be used as a device to stall Iran’s compliance with our demands, nor to confer legitimacy on a regime that is responsible for human rights atrocities and promotion of genocide. Talk is fine, but it’s time we conveyed seriousness about two administrations’ vow that a nuclear-armed Iran is “unacceptable.”