Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak said this week that “Iran has met its end of the deal” despite repeated ballistic missile tests that violate United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Sestak, a former congressman and retired Navy admiral, praised the Iranian nuclear agreement and said that halting plans to unfreeze Iranian assets would harm both American and Israeli security.
“Iran has met its end of the deal,” Sestak said. “For us not to meet our end, or word, of the deal to unfreeze assets will harm American and Israeli security.”
Sestak’s comment was in response to an op-ed by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.), who ran against Sestak in 2010 for a Senate seat. Toomey argued that “Iran has repeatedly abandoned its political commitments” and that lifting sanctions would be “extremely dangerous.”
Toomey pointed to Iran’s multiple tests of new long-range, nuclear-warhead-capable, precision-guided ballistic missiles and the delivery of weapons on Russian cargo ships to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, both of which put Iran in clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
“Iran is in serial violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions mandated by the JCPOA itself,” wrote Toomey. “These violations threaten our national security interests and those of our allies.”
The Obama administration balked at the last minute on the implementation of new sanctions to punish Iran for its ballistic missile tests, leading to criticism from its allies on the nuclear deal in Congress.
Sestak acknowledged that Iran was in violation of the U.N. resolutions, but said that Toomey was “exploiting this violation to undermine another agreement—an agreement we have that increases American and Israeli security.”
Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said that Sestak’s remark makes him an outlier even among Democrats.
“Most sensible Democrats are outraged that Iran is not meeting its end of a deal under which Tehran will get hundreds of billions of dollars on the assumption that it won’t build nuclear weapons,” Dubowitz said.
Sestak also said the Iran deal has already proven to be a success, pointing to his opinion that it would likely take more than a year for Iran to create a nuclear bomb.
There is nothing to celebrate when it comes to Iran’s new nuclear developments since the deal, according to Dubowitz.
“Iran is testing ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. These tests included firing rockets close to an American aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran also unveiled a second underground missile depot with precision-guided, nuclear warhead-capable missiles,” he said. “To permit Iran to develop with impunity one of the three key elements of a nuclear weapon (missiles, warhead, and enrichment) is not to be praised but condemned.”
A spokesman for the Toomey campaign questioned whether Sestak was “the only person this side of Tehran who thinks Iran is keeping its promises.”