By Rep. Kristi Noem
In 2015, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani defended the slogan “Death to America.” That same year, President Barack Obama signed a faulty nuclear deal with Iran that failed to stop them from acquiring nuclear capabilities, undermined the security of our ally Israel, and flooded Iran with cash, producing a $150 billion economic impact for one of the world’s leading state sponsors of terror.
Despite the generous deal Iran received, its threats have continued, particularly against Israel. In 2018 alone, top-ranking Iranian officials have called for Israeli cities to be “razed to the ground” and that Israel itself be “destroyed” and “annihilated.” That matters to Americans, not only because we ought to stand against threats like this against our allies, but because the national security interests of Israel and the United States are so closely intertwined.
Israel has played a critical role in our efforts to defeat ISIL, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations. Our countries have collaborated on improving stability in the region and teamed up on counterterrorism efforts that make each of us a little safer. We’ve worked together to improve behavioral screening techniques at airports and shared information about anti-tunnel technology that could help secure both of our borders. Moreover, Israel is a beacon of democracy in a tumultuous region.
Earlier this year, the United States began the process of stepping away from President Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal. Then, in August, President Trump applied additional sanctions on Iran, slowing down their economic engine and limiting their ability to invest in destructive weapons programs. A second phase of sanctions, which would target Iran’s oil industry, are expected to go into effect in November.
When the Iran Nuclear Deal was initially being discussed, I argued that “no deal would be better than a bad one.” I stand by that. If we’re going to strike a deal, we must make sure Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is dismantled and that inspectors gain complete access to suspicious sites – anytime and anywhere. Sanctions shouldn’t be lifted automatically; instead, Iran should have to prove they’re upholding their end of the deal. And maybe most importantly, the agreement shouldn’t set an arbitrary timeline for the nuclear restrictions to expire, as the Obama-era deal did. If Iran knows restrictions will expire, they’ll exploit that timeline.
It’s critical we take steps toward ending Iran’s nuclear weapons program. But the deal negotiated under President Obama infused Iran’s economy with financial resources without ultimately stopping their nuclear ambitions.