NEWARK, N.J. – US Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement in reaction to President Trump’s announcement that he will not certify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal) under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA).
“No one was stronger in their opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action than I was. In short, I believe that a rollback of international sanctions in exchange for Iran only having to limit its nuclear capabilities was a bad deal for the world community. However, today’s decision to decertify under INARA was more about campaign promises and less about our national security interests.
“As the President’s top military commanders have made clear, the fulfillment of our international obligations and protection of our national security must always come before political calculations. Not certifying now does nothing but create uncertainty among our allies and embolden an already belligerent Iran.
“Moving forward Congress should evaluate the JCPOA through a lens that understands the geopolitical reality we live in today. The United States cannot afford to ignore our international obligations, the importance of our multilateral diplomatic efforts in 2017, or the broader national security implications of diminishing our credibility on the international stage.
“However, when it comes to our nation’s approach to dealing with Iranian threats, I remain guided by two irrefutable truths: Support for intense, rigorous, and tough diplomacy, as well as the necessity to sanction the Iranian regime for their violations of the international order. That is why I believe we should collectively address areas of the nuclear agreement that require clarification as it continues to be implemented, insist on early negotiations to deal with the sunset consequences of the present agreement, while we simultaneously ratchet up efforts to more aggressively counter Iran’s non-nuclear destabilizing activities. To that end, my colleagues and I introduced bipartisan legislation earlier this year to counter Iran’s support for terrorism, ballistic missile activity and egregious human rights abuses – legislation that ultimately became the basis for the package of sanctions targeting Russia, North Korea, and Iran approved by Congress in a veto-proof vote. Unfortunately, the Administration has yet to fully utilize all of the sanction tools we provided them.
“Instead of alienating our allies by decertifying the JCPOA, the President should be leveraging certification to get their commitment to join our efforts to more robustly counter the Iranian regime’s indisputably nefarious behavior. It’s well past time, for example, that our European allies begin legally treating all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, and offer more than verbal slaps on the wrist each time Iran tests ballistic missiles and violates UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
“We must do everything possible to avoid a scenario in which the Iranian regime, which for decades has incrementally but methodically tested international resolve, uses decertification as an excuse not just to abandon all of its obligations in the JCPOA, but also to continue building its conventional weapons arsenal, funding terrorism, prolonging strife in Iraq and Syria, and pursuing policies that threaten the security of the United States and our allies. Finally, the international community must unite to not only strengthen oversight and enforcement of the JCPOA, but also to design a comprehensive strategy that addresses Iranian nuclear ambitions in the short timeframe after which this deal will expire. None of these critical security objectives are advanced by simply not certifying the JCPOA.”