Jeff Flake - U.S. Senator ~ Arizona

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Flake Statement on Opposition to Iran Nuclear Agreement

MESA, Ariz. – U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made the following statement explaining his decision to oppose the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA):

“When the administration announced that an agreement had been reached between the P5+1 and Iran, I said that I would take the time to do due diligence on the deal. I have tried to do so. I am grateful for a comprehensive series of briefings and hearings conducted by Chairman Corker and Ranking Member Cardin of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and for members of the Obama administration for making themselves available for numerous briefings and one-on-one discussions.

“While I have supported the negotiations that led to the JCPOA from the beginning, I cannot vote in support of this deal. The JCPOA does contain benefits in terms of limiting Iran’s ability to produce sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon for a period of time, particularly at its known nuclear facilities. But these benefits are outweighed by severe limitations the JCPOA places on Congress and future administrations in responding to Iran’s non-nuclear behavior in the region.

“While Congress has received assurances from the administration that it does not forfeit its ability to impose sanctions on Iran for behavior on the non-nuclear side, these assurances do not square with the text of the JCPOA.

“As early as February of this year, I wrote to President Obama expressing concern that Congress needed to be better informed and involved in discussions surrounding the applicability of congressional sanctions beyond the term of this administration. Since the JCPOA was announced last month, I have raised this issue in numerous hearings, briefings and meetings with the administration.

“If the JCPOA had been presented to the Senate as a treaty, the Senate could insist on so-called RUDs, or ‘Reservations, Understandings and Declarations,’ to clarify confusion in the agreement. But since the JCPOA is being presented as an executive agreement, RUDs are not an option. I am continuing to encourage the administration to work with Congress on legislation to accompany consideration of the JCPOA to clarify the sanctions issue.

“Iran has already stipulated that it will view the imposition of new or similar sanctions as a breach of the JCPOA. Given the administration’s reluctance to challenge Iran’s interpretation of the JCPOA before it is implemented, I am concerned that the administration will be even more reluctant to confront Iran on its regional behavior once the JCPOA is being implemented, as doing so may give Iran license to forgo its nuclear obligations under the JCPOA. As written, this agreement gives Iran leverage it currently doesn’t have.

“Hoping that Iran’s nuclear ambitions might change after a fifteen year sabbatical might be a bet worth making. Believing that Iran’s regional behavior will change tomorrow - while giving up tools to deter or modify such behavior - is not.”