February 04, 2014

In Case You Missed It: Corker Fears Rolling Interim Agreements with Iran While Nuclear Threat Persists

“I want to see a negotiated settlement. I’ve always thought that the way you have a negotiated settlement, though, is you negotiate very hard on the front end.  And I think there’s a lot of concern that we, with Iran, are going to have just…rolling…interim agreements,” said Corker.

He also described the risks of the interim agreement providing Iran sanctions relief that could erode the international sanctions regime, allowing Iran to attract new business, while at the same time permitting Iran to continue development of delivery mechanisms for a nuclear bomb.

“We’re losing our leverage economically [through sanctions relief].  If you look at every indicator – [Iran’s] currency is rising; inflation is falling; the economy is growing; people’s expectations are that they're not going to be the rogue country they’ve been, and everybody wants to get first in line [to do business with Iran],” said Corker.  “Director Clapper just last week said it’s just a matter of political will as to whether they can make a nuclear weapon. And yet in this interim agreement, over the next year, we are allowing them to continue to develop their ability to militarize and to deliver these weapons. That’s not even part of the agreement. And we’re losing our leverage.”

In testimony before the Foreign Relations Committee today, Mark Dubowitz, Executive Director for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said preparation for additional measures against Iran is necessary if no final agreement can be reached to contain their nuclear program.

“With the Obama administration opposing the new Senate and House legislation, senators need to find some way to signal to markets and to Iran that Congress will not accept endless negotiations, the unraveling of the sanctions regime that took so long to establish, and a nuclear deal that does not stop Iran’s nuclear weapons breakout capability,” said Dubowitz in prepared testimony. “There needs to be a serious and public discussion about what type of sanctions will be required at that point especially since, in areas not adequately addressed by the JPOA [Joint Plan of Action], Iran could gain six to twelve more months to advance the military-nuclear elements of its program through nuclear-weapon and ballistic missile research and development.  If there is no final agreement, and Tehran successfully uses the interim period to advance this work, it could move more quickly to a nuclear weapons breakout and Washington will have lost critical economic leverage.”

Also testifying before the committee were Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs at the U.S. Department of State; David S. Cohen, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financing at the U.S. Department of Treasury; and David Albright, President of the Institute for Science and International Security.

For full testimony and archived footage of the hearing, visit: https://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/negotiations-on-irans-nuclear-program.