08.09.15

VIDEO: As Senate Begins Iran Nuclear Agreement Debate, Senator Lankford Outlines Objections on Senate Floor

Lankford: “This deal takes us closer to a conventional war”

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today spoke on the Senate floor during debate regarding the President’s Nuclear Agreement with Iran.

The Senate is considering a resolution that would disapprove of the Iran Agreement, technically called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which has been negotiated by the United States, China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the Islamic Republic of Iran.  If the disapproval resolution passes both the House and Senate and becomes law, the President is obligated under law not to carry out the terms of the nuclear deal.

Senate Lankford met with many Oklahomans all over the state during the August state work period.  The President’s flawed nuclear deal with Iran was the number one concern he heard, and it became increasingly clear that the majority of Oklahomans oppose the deal.

Lankford announced his decision to oppose the deal and delivered an extensive speech on his objections to the deal on August 5. Lankford, who is a member of the Senate Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees, also uploaded a copy of the Iran Nuclear Agreement on his website for Oklahomans to read and analyze for themselves.

CLICK HERE to view the video

Below is the transcript from the speech:

“Mr. President, I would like to recap the day and some of the things that have been mentioned today on the floor. As I process through some of the debate, here is what I've heard. We'll see if some of my colleagues agree with this and the direction. I've heard a lot of conversation on the details of the agreement and trying to walk through the actual process, what does the text say. But there seems to be two very different opinions about this, so let me just share what I'm hearing back.

There are key things that Iran needs in order to complete a nuclear agreement. It doesn't seem this agreement stops them in the process, and that seems to have been the goal of this agreement, which was to stop them from acquiring a nuclear weapon. What does Iran need? Well, they need time. This agreement gives them time, lays out a schedule, backs up, slows down the process of inspection. It allows them time to be able to finish their research. It allows them money; that’s a key aspect that they need, not only for their terrorism but to actually be able to complete the technological research that they have to have in the facilities. Billions of dollars are released to Iran almost immediately in this agreement for them to be able to complete their research. It allows them ballistic missile capability, which is shocking to a lot of people I've talked to in my state. They assume that this deal actually slows down their ballistic missile and research capability. It actually doesn't. It actually paves the path to them and gives them permission to continue their ballistic missile research.

It allows them to continue towards highly enriched uranium. Again, a lot of people that I’ve talked to have been surprised at that because the assumption was -- and so many times you hear from the president they shouldn't be allowed to have uranium. They shouldn’t be allowed to do that. That was the conversation five years ago but now it's how much uranium can they enrich and what does that look like. Now, there has been some conversation today by individuals that have said, well, this will decrease the number of centrifuges they have. That is entirely correct. It does decrease the number of centrifuges.

But let me give you an illustration. If your company had 20 computers that were built in 1995 and you were told you could replace those computers from 1995 with three computers from this year, would you take that deal? I bet you would. That's the deal that we're giving to Iran. We're telling them their oldest centrifuges, their oldest, originally built, they're going to have to get rid of about two-thirds of those. They can still keep 5,000 of even their oldest centrifuges. But they can install 1,000 of their newest technology centrifuges and keep in mind those going. I would certainly think it is a deal they would take and by the way they are taking and asking us to take it as well.

They have time. They have money. They have ballistic missile research. They have highly enriched uranium and the permission to work on their most advanced centrifuges and they have additional defensive capabilities. They are allowed to stockpile conventional weapons under this agreement and to be able to even add things like surface-to-air defense capabilities to be able to defend their military sites. So you tell me... does Iran have what if needs to be able to complete a nuclear weapon under this deal? Time, money, ballistic missiles, ability to be able to complete their research, advance centrifuges, and defensive weaponry to be able to put it on their facilities? Yes.

Here are some things that we don't know, that we really can’t discuss, that we would have appreciated being able to discuss today, the side deals. We have the main documents that have come, in fact I have posted those on my web site. Many others have done the same. We want Americans to be able to read those things because most Americans, when they read them, are stunned with what this agreement says. But what we can't get is the side deal.

Now again, I've heard over and over from the president, we're not going to trust Iran. We're going to verify. We don't trust, we're going to verify. Literally with the side agreements, people keep hearing, what is the side agreement? What is the side agreement? Here's what the side agreement is. The main agreement gives broad parameters. For instance, it will say we will have inspections. That's great. How are the inspections to be done? Well, that's in the side agreement. So we're agreeing that, yes, there will be inspections. When we ask the question how are inspections to be done, we're told we can't read that document. That's a separate document between the U.N. And Iran. Literally, I cannot verify how we're going to verify.

I'm being told, trust and verify. I can't verify how we're verifying. That seems absurd to me, and it's hard for me to imagine anyone in this body would say, yes, I'd sign off on something I've never read, I've never seen. In fact, the people of the administration have said they have never read, they have never seen. Yet we're being asked to sign off on it and to give our authorization and say, yes, we would support that. I have a problem with that. It is one of many reasons why I cannot support this deal.

Now, what I have heard over and over again by individuals who do support this deal today, I've heard this is the deal, it's in front of us. The president has agreed to it and it will look bad if we don't agree to it. My problem is not looking bad. My problem is a nuclear-armed Iran. That's the problem. At the end of the day, this is not about saving face with America, this is about protecting the United States interests, United States citizens, and those of our friends in the gulf. This is not about saving face for the President. I've heard over and over again, it would be too hard to get the coalition back together to be able to renegotiate this. May I remind you, the reason that we have this coalition together is because the crippling sanctions are one thing. You cannot do business with America and Iran. That's the deal. If we continue the sanctions in place, it’s not about getting the band back together. It’s about leaving those sanctions in place. And if you want to do business with the United States, you also have to agree to not do business with Iran. It’s not about getting everyone back together. Leave them in place. Let's finish renegotiating it.

I have heard over and over again it's either war or it's this. Quite frankly, I think this deal in its place takes us closer to a conventional war. Why? Because it allows Iran to almost immediately begin stockpiling conventional weapons. Those in the gulf region are so concerned about that, that we're promising them they can get more weapons and buy more advanced weapons from us. How does a conventional arms race in the Middle East take us farther from war? Under this agreement, it destabilizes. I've heard over and over again today, what's our message to the world when the rest of the world has signed off on this and yet we say "No"?

Here's our message to the world: Iran is screaming "Death to America," not death to other countries, except Isreal. They’re chanting “Death to Israel.” Israel is also standing up and saying this is a terrible deal for our nation and for the stability of the world. It's not about our message to the world. It's about standing up and being the world's superpower. That's who we are. Let's take responsibility for our position in the world and to be able to finish what we're doing.

I've also heard multiple times today, we'll sign off on this deal and we'll have tougher diplomacy in the future. I have to tell you, every time I've heard that, I've smiled and thought, are you kidding me? What do you mean? With what leverage? This is our leverage. The sanctions are the leverage. We're not going to get tougher in the future. This is the toughest moment. It gets softer from here. Iran is still the single-largest sponsor of terrorism in the world. They made no change in their actions against Yemen. They've made no sanction change in their actions of proppjng up Assad in Syria.

We're giving this away if we sign on to this agreement. This deal is built on hope, not on facts and trust. And I now everyone in this body hopes to get a diplomatic solution. You cannot base an agreement with Iran on hope if we cannot verify it, if we cannot see the documents, if there's been no change in behavior. I think we should assume we still have status quo Iran. Let's push back. Let's get the better deal. Let's not allow advanced centrifuges to stay in place. Let’s not allow them to continue their ballistic missile testing. These are not hard issues to be able to finish. The deal is half-cooked. Let's get it fully baked and then let's finish a diplomatic solution but not just hope that this works out in the days ahead. With that, I yield back.”

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