A bipartisan group over more than 100 U.S. lawmakers is urging President Obama to block further implementation of the Iran nuclear deal since the Iranians have already violated critical provisions on multiple occasions just months into the agreement.
House Foreign Affairs Committee member Ted Yoho, R-Fla, spearheaded a letter, which was sent to the White House just as members of Congress were wrapping up business before Christmas. He says 105 members, both Democrats and Republicans , have signed on.
At issue, according to the letter, is Iran’s conducting of ballistic missile tests on Oct. 10 and Nov. 21 in 2015. Such tests are specifically forbidden in the nuclear deal, which is formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
Yoho says the Iranian violations are obvious.
“Iran has broken the deal already, a minimum of two times, by test-firing the ballistic missiles. This is just a blatant breach of that agreement,” said Yoho, who then elaborated on why the tests were a direct violation of Iran’s vow not to acquire nuclear weapons.
“The only reason you need a medium-range or intercontinental ballistic missile is for the delivery of a nuclear warhead. There is no other reason to have that,” said Yoho.
For close to three months, there has been virtually no response to the missile tests from the Obama administration. Yoho says that is not what Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry said would happen if Iran was caught cheating.
“The president and John Kerry said that if they breached the agreement, there would be immediate snapback and sanctions would be put in place,” said Yoho. “We had over 105 congressional representatives, both Republicans and Democrats that signed on to that because it is such a blatant breach of this contract or this agreement.”
Yoho says Obama’s failure to make good on his word is yet another major blow to U.S. credibility around the world, after drawing the famous “red line” in response to Syrian use of chemical weapons only to back away. He also cited the former Obama demand for the ousting of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Last month, during a visit to Russia, Kerry announced that was no longer the U.S. goal.
“Here again, they’ve drawn a line or set a line in the sand and said that this would not be tolerated and they’re walking away from it. This is why our foreign policy has failed so miserably. We don’t back up our words with actions,”said Yoho.
The congressman says Obama’s reluctance to follow through on his promise in this case is likely due to Obama’s quixotic approach towards the mullahs in Tehran.
“I think you’re trying to see the president bend over backwards to do whatever he can to get Iran on our side. It’s not going to happen. Iran will never be a friend of the United States,” said Yoho.
Yoho says there appeared to be an initial instinct for the administration to drop the sanctions hammer on the Iranians and some 12 companies connected with the ballistic missile program, but that’s since been pushed to the back burner.
“They announced, I think it was Wednesday of last week, that sanctions were going to be talked about at 10:30 in the morning. Then they retracted that and said that they’re going to have to reconsider that,” said Yoho.
The administration has a history of not responding to letters from members of Congress, but Yoho says this is only the start of the effort.
“Our goal is to keep putting more pressure on this administration to hold Iran accountable. If we don’t Iran is going to run amok and they’re going to walk away from this deal and they’re going to be legally allowed to develop their nuclear arsenal,” said Yoho.
But while Yoho and at least 104 of his colleagues call for a freeze on JCPOA, what exactly is left to implement? Yoho says it’s the money, some $100 billion in frozen assets and oil revenues and other funds that is still yet to be delivered. He says we can take it to the bank that a lot of that money will be spent making our national security weaker and even targeting American lives, a conclusion he says has been proven by the Iranians taking and maiming U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Seventy percent of those were done by IED’s. Ninety percent of those were funded by the state of Iran. Iran funds Hezbollah and they fund Hamas, two proxy groups that do nothing but acts of terrorism around the world. So if they get access to that [money], you think they’re going to be playing nicer with the United States?” said Yoho.