May 26, 2024
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AIPAC Exhorts Jewish Community to Lobby Congress Against Iran Deal

Closter—Ambassador Bradley Gordon, AIPAC Director of Policy and Government Affairs, told a crowd of 600 at Temple Emanu-El to lobby their representatives in Congress to vote against the nuclear agreement with Iran. We have 60 days, he noted, from just before Tisha B’Av to the review deadline Rosh Hashanah. “If we don’t do everything we can now, what will we tell our children?” he asked.

While getting the support of members of the president’s party will be an uphill fight, it’s not impossible. “Out of 535 members, I can count on two hands who endorsed it.” He said AIPAC will do everything it can to let Congress know this is a bad deal and it will allow Iran to achieve nuclear weapons. “The Jewish People have to take it seriously when someone says they will destroy you. It is an existential threat to have nuclear weapons in the hands of a country that threatens to wipe Israel off the map. As a community, we must rise with one voice and say ‘not good enough.’”

Iran has had a covert nuclear program since the 1980s—in violation of their obligation as a member of the non-proliferation treaty. “This deal is bad in the short term and the long run,” Gordon said. “It is a pathway to legal weapons capability.”

The most critical part of the deal is that all sanctions disappear on day one. Iran will have access to $150 billion in frozen accounts, money that can be used to support their regional allies: Syria’s Assad, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

All restrictions will be lifted on Iran’s nuclear program in year eight and will be gone by year 15. Iran can install as many centrifuges as it wants, build nuclear enrichment facilities and do all the research and development it wants. They can build reactors producing plutonium and reduce their breakout time for enriched uranium from two months to a couple of days. They will be able to have weapons in a matter of days. And when that happens, there will have to be an immediate decision, said Gordon: “Will we bomb Iran or does Iran get the bomb?” He said with this agreement, a nuclear arms race in the Middle East will be inevitable. He noted the Saudis have already said they will match Iran’s nuclear capability.

The ‘snapback’ provision—reintroducing sanctions if there is evidence of Iran reneging on agreements—will be very difficult to achieve unless there is a significant violation, he said. Contracts signed between companies and Iran will not be retroactive. It will also be tough to assess when Iran is cheating. The inspection regime will only be a window into declared activity. “No one cheats from a declared facility,” he said. We need ‘anytime, anywhere inspections.’

Ambassador Gordon rejected the administration’s argument that the only alternative to this agreement is war. “War is the least likely alternative; it is in no one’s interest,” Gordon said. Iran has spent billions on this program and they don’t want to risk a military response that will bring so much damage.

What is the alternative to this deal? Gordon said it is to get out of this bad agreement. “The only way to reconstruct a different future is to resume economic pressure. We know that sanctions work.” Gordon said that even if other countries choose to endorse the deal, business would be crippled with American sanctions. “Every bank in the world needs access to the American banking system. Dollars dominate.”

For a glimpse of a future with this agreement, Gordon reminds us what happened with North Korea. “In 1994, Clinton said an agreement will prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons. Eight years later, they have those weapons and everyone treats North Korea with kid gloves.”

Ambassador Gordon has been an expert on Iran’s nuclear program for decades. He was the Staff Director of the International Operations Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and was the Assistant Director of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency for Non-proliferation policy. He also served as a political analyst at the CIA from 1979 to 1985 in the office of Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis.

The program was sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.

By Bracha Schwartz

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