Before signing off on an agreement with Iran, Congress should heed the advice of officials at the Department of Energy and intelligence professionals — not President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry — about Tehran's "intentions and capabilities," according to Gen. Michael Hayden, the former director of the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency.
"We need to look at the deal in its entirety and frankly push the president's view on the deal aside, push Secretary Kerry's view on the deal aside," Hayden, a retired four-star Air Force general, said Monday on Newsmax TV's
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"I don't mean to be overly critical, but they've got a track record of saying things that are useful for the moment rather than reflecting the reality."
Hayden said he has several concerns with the deal currently on the table, including the number of centrifuges (6,500) that seems to be the agreed upon number, as well as "the Iranians not being forced to come clean on a nuclear path," such as what weaponization activity have they undertaken.
"They're stiffing the IAEA, the international inspectors, on those questions and I'm still concerned about what's the fine print with regard to the Iranian facilities at Fordow, where they've got a reactor hall inside a granite mountain, and in Iraq, where they've got a plutonium reactor under construction," he said. "So there's a lot to be checked here."
Even if one were to assume that Tehran has not been "cheating" in its nuclear activities, it is apparent that the Iranians have been "perfecting their nuclear knowledge during this period."
"There isn't an electron or a neutron that's going to ever show up in a nuclear weapon," Hayden said. "They're going to build that stuff somewhere else we don't know of yet. What they're building … is knowledge and confidence and technological know-how."
On reports that the Nigerian terrorist organization Boko Haram has pledged an allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS), Hayden said it's not surprising.
"Obviously, Boko Haram wants the brand," he said. "It can be either Joe's Hamburgers stand on the corner or McDonald's, and McDonald's sells better. Boko Haram will get a burst of energy when ISIS says yes, you can be part of the team."
ISIS, he added, has a deft ability to "manipulate our media and heighten the sense of threat where we all live under," according to Hayden, regardless of whether one thinks the group poses only a grave threat in the region, or that the same level of threat extends to the United States
and elsewhere in the West.
"They're a dangerous group and they're doing horrible things, and they aren't doing them in the middle of nowhere," he said. "They're doing it in the middle of the Middle East, at the crossroads of civilization."
"To pretend that this can be isolated there and doesn't ultimately affect us is kind of wishful thinking. Al-Qaida was more interested in going after the foreign, that's you and me, than ISIS is.
"ISIS is interested in going after the near enemy now and establishing their caliphate, where they're located, but it doesn't mean they're not a danger."
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