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Senator Lankford Delivers Speech on Terrorism and Iran Nuclear Agreement 1-Year Anniversary

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WASHINGTON, DC – On Thursday, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) delivered a speech on the Senate floor about terrorism and the Iran Nuclear Agreement’s one-year anniversary. During the speech, Lankford pointed out how the promises regarding Iran have not been fulfilled, and that Iran remains the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world in the last year, which is confirmed by the President’s Director of National Intelligence.


Today’s happy birthday to the JCPOA, what is commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. Happy birthday. You’re one year old today. In many ways we’ve seen some progress in some areas. Iran does have fewer centrifuges now than what they had a year ago. Iran has allowed the inspectors to come into some locations. That’s a positive thing. Iran has allowed engagement in some of their purchasing of some of their nuclear materials. That’s a positive thing and I’m grateful for the progress and I hope that progress continues, but at this point it’s just a hope. Quite frankly today for me, recognizing the one-year birthday of the Iran nuclear deal is a reminder to the administration that America and the Congress has not forgotten that this is a deal that has to be implemented with great strength because the issues that we face in a relationship with Iran are a multitude. Let me just highlight a few things just to be able to talk through some of the issues that I have seen and things that are still coming, things that have happened in the past year and things that are still to come. 

For instance, in the past year, the international community has released around $100 billion to Iran, $100 billion has flown back to them. What’s happened in that time period? They have recapitalized their banks. They have recapitalized in several areas that they needed in their economy, but they’ve also increased their military defense spending by 90% in the past year. That flood of money has accelerated the Iranian military buildup. We have actually contributed to that as Americans. 

About a month or so after and shortly connected to the Iran nuclear deal being announced and going through the process, Iran released several folks that were considered hostages by the Americans, people that had been jailed in America, that were Americans jailed in Iran. They released those individuals and shortly thereafter the administration released from the Judgment Fund $1.7 billion to Iran saying this is part of the return from some of the money that was required from Iran from 1979 in the fall of the Shah. $1.7 billion. Interestingly enough, months later Iran and its movement increased its military spending exactly $1.7 billion and the Iranians announced those two were connected. American tax dollars directly funded $1.7 billion of Iranian military buildup. I wish I could even stop there. 

Just months ago the administration announced that we were going to start purchasing heavy water from Iran. You see, we don’t produce our own heavy water. Heavy water is used in development of nuclear materials for a nuclear weapon but it’s also used in research. United States doesn’t produce our own heavy water. We purchase it from Canada mostly. But instead this time we purchased nuclear water for over $8 million from Iran. So we didn’t purchase from our ally. We purchased from Iran. I wish I could tell you that is all that it is, but Secretary Moniz announced with that, this statement upon the purchase of heavy water from Iran. “The idea is okay. We tested it. It’s perfectly good, heavy water. It meets specs. We’ll buy a little bit of that. That will be the statement to the world,” he said. “You’ll want to buy heavy water from Iran. You can buy heavy water from Iran. It’s been done. Even the United States did it.” We have moved in the past year from sanctions on Iran to being Iran’s salesman to helping them sell heavy water to the world. Telling them, “Don’t buy from our allies and Canada anymore. We tested the Iranian water and we like it. You should buy that.” That’s a pretty big shift in the last year to move from we have sanctions on you as a terrorist nation to we are your salesman. People of the world should start buying their nuclear heavy water from Iran. That’s all just in the past year. 

Wish I could stop, but many people have noticed if they’re watching the media at all, that Iran has launched multiple test missiles in the past several months. October the 10, they launched a missile with an 800-mile range. November 21, they launched another long-range missile. On March 8 and 9, they launched other missiles as test missiles. All these are in violation of the missile test treaty ban that has been in place for years on Iran. What has been done so far to be able to sanction, back down sanctions? Nada. 

So they’re recapitalizing their military. They’re testing new missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear armaments. They’re continuing to pursue nuclear materials in opposition to the direct agreement. Just days ago Germany released  a long report from their domestic intelligence agency which is their equivalent of our FBI. They released out a statement saying the findings by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, that’s their FBI, in a 317-page report said that they had found that Iran has a clandestine effort to seek illicit nuclear technology and equipment from German companies, at what is even by international standards a quantitatively high level. Germen Chancellor Angela Merkel underscored the finding in a statement to parliament saying Iran violated the UN Security Council’s antimissile development regulations. Seeking nuclear materials in a quantitatively high level from German companies in a clandestine way. Angela Merkel saying they are still continuing to press on the missile side of things, they’re continuing to advance. The same time, out in plain sight, Iran has purchased from Russia the S-300 missile defense system. They continue to have a tremendous number of religious and human rights documented prisoners that are in Iran, estimated 821 individuals right now. By the way, some of those also Americans that are currently imprisoned in Iran right now—some of them for just the simple practice of a minority faith. 

I asked DNI Clapper, the President’s Director of National Intelligence, just weeks ago what has changed in Iran being the largest states sponsor of terrorism in the world in the last year? His response to me was nothing. They are still advancing against Bahrain to have a coup. They’re still funding the civil war and coup that’s happening in Yemen. They’re still funding Hezbollah. They are still propping up Assad, and in fact have increased their funding levels there.

All of those things still continue to advance, just with more money and with more supplies now than what they had in the past. It’s a one-year birthday from the Iran Nuclear Deal and Iran is a rising power in the region and continues to advance towards nuclear technology. 

So what are we going to do about it? One is I think we need to continue to remind everyone that’s out there that this is a very serious threat. Iran with a nuclear weapon is completely unacceptable in this world. The largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world should not have nuclear weapons. The world community should at least agree on that. 

I have pushed on several areas. I authored a bill dealing with—it’s a resolution, in fact—detailing out when the administration should do snapbacks. The administration has been very vague about when they’ll also snap back sanctions. So we took their deal that they had, went through it in great detail, put it in technical language and put it into a resolution to clearly state here are the boundaries of this resolution so it has no fuzzy gray areas. 

We’ve also demanded through an Appropriations Amendment that we get greater detail in the $1.7 billion in transfer money from the Judgment Fund that was transferred to Iran. Currently we have almost no detail on that, other than we know Iran used it for its military development because they announced that and put that out. 

Third, I’ve worked with Senator Fisher from Nebraska, creating a Judgment Fund Transparency Piece so we will never again transfer American dollars to any states sponsor of terrorism around the world. Couldn’t we have that as a minimum criteria that we will not spend the hard earned tax dollars of Americans to help supply the military requirements of the largest state sponsor of terrorism? I cosponsored a bill with Senator Rubio, which prohibits giving Ex-Im financing to any company in Iran or to Iran in general, to make sure Iran is not coming to again the American taxpayer to be able to get some sort of subsidies to been to do that.  And as I’ve mentioned before, we will continue to remind the administration that no one is forgetting because we do not have the option of losing track of a nuclear Iran. 

Happy birthday to the Iran Nuclear Deal. I hope in the years ahead we can say we have a non-nuclear power Iran, but I will tell you based on what has happened in the past year, I remain incredibly skeptical of that. I yield back.