There were many other options on the table beyond the nuclear accord that's been reached with Iran, Sen. Joni Ernst said Thursday, and she rejects the idea that Iran won't work with the United States through other diplomatic options.
"The president has stated over and over again that the only other option to this deal is war," the Iowa Republican told CNN's "New Day" program. "Well, first to me this is a pathway to nuclear armament for Iran. This deal does not stop them from developing nuclear capabilities."
During Wednesday's hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee
, Ernst pointedly asked Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey if there were other options beyond the deal than war
, as President Barack Obama has stated, and the general replied that he never told the president that was the only option.
"At no time did that come up in our conversation nor did I make that comment," Dempsey told Ernst. "I can tell you that we have a range of options and I always present them."
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Thursday morning, the Iowa senator told CNN that to her the deal is a "pathway to nuclear armament for Iran" that "does not stop them from developing nuclear capabilities. It only freezes it for a short time."
The deal will also allow billions of dollars to flow into Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism, said Ernst, "so we can't allow that to happen. These people are not our allies and they are not going to change overnight."
Meanwhile, she told CNN, there are other options beyond going to war, including diplomacy, if the deal isn't met with congressional approval.
"We have to look at what we are doing to stop nuclear armament and protect other countries around the globe," she said. "That is not happening with this deal. As I stated, it provides a pathway to nuclear armament for the Iranians and it doesn't stop them at all. They are still a state sponsor of terrorism."
And those options will mean world leaders need to get together and continue with economic sanctions on Iran, Ernst said.
"There are military options which are always left on the table, but that should be a last resort," she said. "We have to intensify the economic sanctions. They are working. However, Iran will continue to push against those that we consider allies. They will continue to call for death for Americans. We can't allow that to happen."
The sanctions, she said, slowed Iran's development, but the deal will allow the country "to purchase conventional weapons in a short period of time," and has "escalated a conventional arms race in the Middle East."
Ernst also discussed a bill she sponsored to defund Planned Parenthood, which has come under fire in recent weeks after three undercover sting videos purporting to show deals being made over the sales of fetal tissue have been released.
However, even though she wants Planned Parenthood defunded, Ernst insisted that the legislation will not decrease dollars that are available for cancer screenings, birth control, and other services with the exception of the abortion services that the organization offers.
"That money can be applied for by other facilities, such as hospitals and community health centers, so those services are still available," said Ernst. "If you look at the wide range of services that are available, Planned Parenthood only does about 10 percent of those screenings overall in this nation."
The videos that have been released are "extremely disturbing," said Ernst, and Americans should speak out about them.
She also rejected the idea that services offered by Planned Parenthood would be too difficult for low-income women to obtain if clinics lose their funding.
"There are many, many more thousands of community healthcare centers, hospitals that offer easy access to those types of activities," she said. "I come from a rural area and we have many community healthcare centers as well as county hospitals and so forth where we can receive those services."
The one thing Ernst would not weigh directly on, though, was a new Quinnipiac poll that shows Donald Trump in the lead in her home state. Trump scored 20 percent of the respondents, while his closest competition, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, got 13 percent and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush netted 10 percent.
"I'm not going to speak for all of Iowans because we have a very interesting caucus process which will be coming up at the beginning of next year," Ernst said. "We have a lot of candidates that bring a lot of different skills and abilities to the table, and we'll see what Iowa says here in the next six months or so."
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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