The fight against the Iran nuclear deal is continuing, this time with a bill in Congress which would make the current Iranian regime – the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism – pay back the families of its American victims before any sanctions on it were lifted.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), and is known as the Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act (or H.R 3457). It requires Iran to pay over $40 billion in court judgments, most of which comes from lawsuits brought in connection to the 1983 bombing of a Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon. The bombing, which killed 241 servicemen, was the deadliest day for the U.S. Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.
American investigations found terrorists backed by Iran and Syria were likely responsible, and one terrorist leader was indicted in federal court. But instead of going to court, that terrorist leader went on to join Hezbollah – a group dedicated to the destruction of Israel and consistently backed by Iran. And Iran has never admitted responsibility or paid a dime to the victims of the horrific attack.
In passing this bill, House Republicans finally voted to change that. The bill declares that “the President may not waive, suspend, reduce, provide relief from, or otherwise limit” sanctions” until he has “certified to the Congress that the Government of Iran has paid each judgment against Iran.”
More than 150 world leaders are gathered in New York this week at a meeting of the United Nations. Most of the press attention went to Vladimir Putin attending the meeting for the first time in a decade – until today, when Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called out the array of presidents and prime ministers for accepting an Iran deal which is woefully insufficient to guarantee the safety of his country or the world at large. It was a remarkable display of leadership, and one our current administration could learn a lot from.
Netanyahu specifically noted the financial windfall Iran will receive from the deal and the inevitable home for that money – terrorism. The total monetary benefit for the Iranian regime is unknown, but as the Israeli leader noted, it will be more than enough to continue undermining the stability in the world’s most volatile region:
This deal doesn’t make peace more likely. By fueling Iran’s aggressions with billions of dollars in sanctions relief, it makes war likely.
Unleashed and unmuzzled, Iran will go on the prowl, devouring more and more prey… You think hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief and fat contracts will turn this rapacious tiger into a kitten?”
For all its passion, though, the speech was careful in its approach to America. After weeks of strong disagreement with the Obama administration, Netanyahu was careful to keep disagreeing without risking the relationship, lauding America as a long-standing Israeli ally and saying any differences were “within the family.”
Netanyahu’s speech to the United Nations can be watched below:
Since the deal was signed, Iran has significantly increased its financial support for two of the largest terror groups in the region that have become political players, Hamas and Hezbollah. In the years before the deal was signed, the crippling sanctions limited this support, which had significantly diminished along with Iran’s economy.
This was a predictable response, and one anticipated in previous analysis of shortcomings of the current deal. It is a shame that the current administration has given up on sanctions, as the financial restrictions in place were pushing Iran into an increasingly difficult fiscal situation. Lifting the sanctions and allowing this Iranian windfall creates grave dangers for both America and its allies in the region.
TVCELI’s new white paper on the Iranian nuclear weapons agreement is finally out. Our conclusions are straightforward:
Much has been said about the alternative to a deal being war, but the true alternative is a better deal — one that is enforceable and with serious consequences — if the Islamic Republic is unfaithful to the agreement. The crippling sanctions bringing Iran to the bargaining table must remain in place. Such a course of action would bolster the confidence of our allies in the region. Iran must recognize further its commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Moreover, a clear policy stance indicating that the United States and NATO are both unwilling to tolerate a mass race for nuclear arms in the region will show Western unwillingness to fight a series of proxy wars under the threat of an Iranian nuclear umbrella. Such a line will be a critical first step in restoring confidence in America’s resolve in the region while offering a free hand in dealing with ISIL, permitting avenues for a UN-brokered peace in Syria while assuring our Turkish allies of America’s commitment to preserving stability in the region and denying Iranians the leverage they have used to force the issue this far.
The alternative to the Obama-Kerry brokered deal with Iran isn’t war — it’s a better deal, one with teeth that reinforces the realities of nuclear non-proliferation and emphasizes the need for stability in the region.