McKeon ‘Concerned’ Iran Negotiations ‘Flawed From The Outset’

‘I worry that the President wants to achieve a nuclear deal with Iran – at almost any cost.’

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Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Rep. Buck McKeon (R., Calif.) stated in a hearing today that he is "concerned that the scope of the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program was flawed from the outset."

"I worry that the President wants to achieve a nuclear deal with Iran – at almost any cost," McKeon said.

McKeon cited Israel and other U.S. allies who "both publicly and privately conveyed their deep reservations" about the potential deal the United States is working towards in negotiations with Iran in Vienna.

The chairman listed off his various concerns about the shortcomings of the deal: "We know that Iran would be allowed to keep its nuclear capabilities, ability to enrich, and break-out capability. We know that Iran has had and may continue to have undeclared sites. We know that there are military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program that it refuses to address. And, we know that the nuclear program is but one facet of Iran’s overall grand strategy, which includes its sponsorship of terrorism, the largest ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East, and other conventional military capabilities that continue to threaten the region and beyond. Yet, none of these issues appear to be within scope of a comprehensive deal. "

McKeon said he does not want war with Iran, but is concerned that the deal could lead to military conflict in the future since it does not dismantle the nuclear program and "legitimizes Iran’s capability to enrich."

Full statement:

"Good morning ladies and gentlemen. The House Armed Services Committee meets to receive testimony from outside experts on the P5+1 negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program and its implications for United States defense. Today, we have with us Mr. William Tobey, Mr. Michael Singh and Ambassador Thomas Pickering. Our witnesses have an immense amount of experience working Iran issues and we appreciate them sharing their perspectives with us today.

"I am concerned that the scope of the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program was flawed from the outset. We know that Iran would be allowed to keep its nuclear capabilities, ability to enrich, and break-out capability. We know that Iran has had and may continue to have undeclared sites. We know that there are military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program that it refuses to address. And, we know that the nuclear program is but one facet of Iran’s overall grand strategy, which includes its sponsorship of terrorism, the largest ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East, and other conventional military capabilities that continue to threaten the region and beyond. Yet, none of these issues appear to be within scope of a comprehensive deal.

"Our ally, Israel, has called this a "bad deal." Other friends and allies in the region have both publicly and privately conveyed their deep reservations about this deal. I worry that the President wants to achieve a nuclear deal with Iran – at almost any cost.

"Some will argue that this deal is better than no deal and that it would slow down Iran’s nuclear program. But how much time does it really buy us? International sanctions, which took a decade to put into place, were finally starting to bite. Had the Administration maintained a strong regional presence, Congress’ robust sanctions, and a clear resolve to use the military option if necessary; we could have set the conditions for Iran to change its strategic calculus. Yet, through these negotiations, we have done the opposite. In fact, Iran already thinks that the P5+1 have legitimized its nuclear enrichment capability – thereby validating its strategic calculus.

"The American public is understandably war weary. I do not desire to go to war with Iran either – and that is precisely why I am concerned about the President’s approach in these negotiations. If the Administration signs onto a comprehensive deal that legitimizes Iran’s capability to enrich and that does not dismantle the nuclear program as well as the arsenal surrounding Iran’s nuclear program, I fear that a future President may have to seriously contemplate taking military action to enforce such a deal or to protect our allies in the region.  This is the worst possible outcome.

This is a very serious and complicated issue.  Again, I thank our expert panel for being here today, and I look forward to your testimony and insights."

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