Lindsey Graham: Nuke Deal Leaves Iran 'On the Verge' of Making Weapons

Monday, 25 Nov 2013 04:45 PM

By Jim Meyers and John Bachman

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Sen. Lindsey Graham tells Newsmax that the agreement reached between Iran and world powers is a "huge lost opportunity" that will leave the Islamic Republic "on the verge of a breakout" in producing nuclear weapons.

The South Carolina Republican also predicts the deal agreed to by the Obama administration — loosening sanctions on Iran — is not going to "go over well" with Congress.

Graham was first elected to the Senate in 2002 after four terms in the House of Representatives. He was re-elected in 2008 with 58 percent of the vote. He is a member of the Appropriations, Armed Services, Judiciary, and Budget committees.

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In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV on Monday, Graham says "basically, we let the Iranians off the hook."

Story continues below video.



"The sanctions really were inviting the regime to want to negotiate because of the proven effect that the sanctions had, and at the end of the day, their nuclear capability is pretty much intact. They have 18,000 centrifuges. They have a very sophisticated enrichment program. Not one centrifuge was dismantled. They got $7 billion in cash. All in all, not a very good deal [for the U.S.]."

Secretary of State John Kerry says the deal with allow inspectors to visit Iran's nuclear facilities on a daily basis, but Graham is skeptical.

"All I can say is that's exactly what they did in North Korea," he says. "They negotiated with North Korea, they applied sanctions, they gave relief to the sanctions, they put international monitors into the North Korean facilities, and look what happened.

"I don't believe that U.N. inspectors are going to provide a safeguard to Israel or the United States or the world at large.

"So having inspectors in these facilities is exactly what we did with North Korea. Did they have the capability to develop a nuclear weapon? The answer is yes."

Graham predicts that if Iran does not comply with the terms of the initial six-month agreement, "Congress will pass an additional round of sanctions. The only way you're going to get this right is for the Iranians to believe that military force is on the table to stop their nuclear program, or continued sanctions.

"I want to dismantle the plutonium-producing reactor. If it's not operational yet, I don't want to freeze it in place, I want to dismantle it. I want to dismantle the centrifuges so they can't enrich uranium. But what's next will be a round of sanctions passed by the Congress that will tie relief to the end game.

"The end game should be four things: Iran cannot enrich uranium at all; all of their highly enriched uranium should be turned over to the international community; dismantle the plutonium reactor; and if you want a commercial, peaceful nuclear power plant in Iran, let the international community control the fuel cycle. Fifteen countries have nuclear plants that do not enrich uranium.

"I do believe there's strong bipartisan support for a new round of sanctions with an endgame that I previously described.

"The Israelis are going to be looking at the endgame."

Iran needs to understand that after "30 years of mayhem, murder, and chaos pushed by the regime, we're not going to allow you to enrich, and we're going to dismantle the plutonium reactor. That should be the demands of international community. That's exactly what the U.N. resolutions say. So this interim deal doesn't take us very far along the road to a final deal.

"The Iranians are saying this agreement allows them to enrich. I just don't think that's going to go over well with Congress.

"Ten years ago, the Iranians had about 200 centrifuges. When Obama took power in 2009, they had about 2,000. They have 18,000 today. In 2009, they had about 2,000 kilograms of enriched uranium, enough to make one bomb. They've got a lot more than that now.

"This interim deal does not dismantle any of the aspects of this program. They're on the verge of a breakout when it comes to producing a nuclear weapon.

"I just don't see how this movie ends much differently than in North Korea. The big difference is Israel. Israel is not going to allow this program to have the capability, at the end of the day, to develop a weapon. Israel is not going to bet her future on a bunch of U.N. inspectors.

"It's a huge lost opportunity. The Iranians really were on the ropes. We had a chance to deliver a body blow to their program.

"What I fear the most is that the international community will fracture. Now that you're doing business with Iran, it may be hard to hold the sanctions in place in the future. The Iranians may have successfully divided the United States from Europe, and that would be the worst of all outcomes."

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