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Congressman Gus Bilirakis

Representing the 12th District of Florida

Iran Negotiations

January 29, 2015
Bilirakis Blog

In his State of the Union address, the President said: “Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran; secures America and our allies – including Israel; while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict.”

“Between now and this spring” is not the first deadline. A failure to reach an agreement is unsurprising, given Iran’s continued push-back on negotiations and publicly stated wish to attack Israel on the West Bank. What’s more, the Iranian legislature is currently drafting legislation to allow Iran to enrich more uranium.

This is hardly a partisan issue. Senator Menendez, leading Democrat on the Senate Relations Committee, said the President’s remarks about Iran seemed to be coming “straight out of Tehran.” Given the President’s disastrous foreign policy initiatives, what reason do the American people and our allies have to believe these negotiations are any different?

A nuclear Iran is bad for the United States, plain and simple. The intransigent Iranian regime has made existential threats to our steadfast ally, and only democracy in the Middle East, Israel. Additionally, the mullahs promise to destroy U.S. military assets, including personnel, and American interests abroad with missile strikes and more. We must take these threats seriously. Sanctions in previous Congresses have passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. They are a vital tool when working to keep our citizens and allies out of harm’s way. Look no further than the collapse of Russia’s economy for proof positive that tough economic sanctions work.

Congress must immediately take up for consideration the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015.  This bill would impose new sanctions on Iran if international negotiators fail to reach a deal by June 30.  Further, it requires the President to formally submit the text of any final agreement with Iran to Congress within five days, along with a report detailing how the Secretary of State will be able to verify Iran’s compliance.  Congress would then have 30 legislative days to review the agreement.  Iran is already a leading state sponsor of terror and commits intolerable human rights violations on religious minorities. We cannot let them continue this pattern of international indifference. Congress has a responsibility to act responsibly, even if the President will not.

Leading from behind is not getting the job done.