Defense hawk Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., caution against excessive optimism as nuclear talks with Iran get underway Wednesday.
“A negotiated settlement that verifiably ends Iran's illicit nuclear activities and prevents Iran from possessing the capability to assemble a nuclear weapon quickly is desirable and possible,” the trio writes in The Wall Street Journal
. “But we must not allow these talks to become a movie we've seen before, in which success is defined less by the outcome of negotiations than by their mere perpetuation.”
Iran has a long record of employing deceit and defiance against the United States, the senators say. That “should make us extremely cautious about its willingness to engage in good-faith diplomacy,” they write. “And its nuclear pursuit cannot be divorced from its other destabilizing actions — support for violent extremist groups such as Hezbollah and the Taliban, threats against Arab governments and Israel, attempts to assassinate foreign diplomats, and lethal assistance to the Assad regime in Syria.”
Economic sanctions are hurting Iran where it counts. So if history is any guide, Iran will likely use the talks to buy time and relieve that pressure, the senators maintain. Thus “the U.S. must work with our partners to make clear that there will be no diminution of pressure until the totality of Iran's illicit nuclear activities has been addressed.”
That means we need to go beyond the three steps that the United States and its allies in the talks will reportedly seek – closing of the underground enrichment facility at Fordow, removing all uranium enriched to 20 percent from Iranian territory, and halting further enrichment at that level, the senators say.
Iran also must agree to full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, intrusive inspections, and full compliance with all U.N. Security Council resolutions, “including its repeated demand for full, verifiable, and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related, reprocessing, and heavy-water activities,” the senators write.
“A diplomatic solution with Iran is possible if the Iranian regime genuinely wants one. But to achieve this outcome, we must not allow the Iranians to draw us into an extended negotiation with a continuing series of confidence-building measures that never ultimately force Tehran to verifiably abandon its pursuit of a nuclear-weapons capability.”
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