VIDEO: Senator Lankford Slams Iran Nuclear Agreement On Senate Floor
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today delivered a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate about President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. Lankford, who is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has fully read the deal and has grave concerns about its implications for security and proliferation. During the speech, Lankford expressed concerns with the deal leading to Iran’s ability to delay inspections of suspect nuclear sites for weeks and an end to the U.N. conventional weapons ban on Iran. Lankford also pointed out enrichment and research and development loopholes that could allow Iran a path to a nuclear weapon. This speech was the first public admission from Senator Lankford that he would not support the agreement with Iran.
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Below is the transcript from the speech:
“Mr. President, we’re facing, in the days ahead, one of the most consequential issues we’ll face as a nation – the issue about an agreement with Iran. Some people want to make this into a partisan conversation. It’s not a partisan conversation. It’s a national security issue, and it’s a world security issue. The Senate has already held multiple hearings on Iran and on this particular agreement. The Intel committee that I sit on, the Armed Services Committee, and the Foreign Relations Committee. I personally met with secretary of Treasury Jack Lew, Secretary of Energy Earnest Moniz, Secretary of State John Kerry.
I have been through the agreement and through the classified portion of this agreement in every detail. I wish I could also go through the [International Atomic Energy Agency] IAEA information about how the inspections will actually occur because the agreement itself gives broad statements, the IAEA agreement will be how they are actually going to do inspections. But I have been told over and over again by the administration and by officials that the U.S. will not have a role in determining how the inspections will be done and that they will not even see the methods of how we will do inspections before they actually begin. They told me they had been orally briefed on the process but they have not actually seen it, which means they haven’t seen it. I can’t see it. It seems odd to me that the final aspect of the agreement that actually gives the greatest detail of how the inspections will occur, none of us can actually see.
It’s difficult to have this ‘trust but verify’ attitude when we are actually not given the ability to verify how they’re verifying and to see how much trust is actually being given in this process. The White House has told us over and over again that if you don’t like this deal, there’s two options: it’s either war or you provide a better solution. I’m telling everyone let’s slow down, let’s look at both of those things and let’s also back up and see where we are.
The U.S. And the U.N. Have for years said that Iran should not enrich uranium. In fact, there are six U.N. Resolutions saying Iran should not enrich uranium. Why? Because Iran is the single largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Iran has propped up the Assad regime in Syria. They are sending the soldiers to walk side by side and to fight with Assad right now and hold up that Syrian government. Iran is paying for and propping up the coup that’s in Yemen right now on Saudi Arabia’s southern border. They are still chanting in the streets death to America, and they are actively pursuing larger and larger weapons. I think there is a reason to take this seriously. Now, back to the statement… the White House has said if you don’t agree with this agreement, then it’s either war or you come up with a better option.
Let me touch on those two things briefly. I think in many many ways this agreement actually pushes us faster to a process towards war. And why would I say that? Because the conventional weapons ban is lifted under this agreement and Iran can freely purchase weapons from around the world that has been banned by U.N. Treaty now. That’s now lifted under this agreement. To pacify the gulf states in Israel, immediately the administration went to the gulf states and said we understand the conventional weapons ban is being lifted there so we’re going to provide you greater technology in weapons and we’re going to provide you greater access to weapons and help to be able to get those weapons. So help me understand why encouraging the Middle East to start dialing up with more and more weapons on both sides of this doesn’t actually curb us towards war even faster.
Then this statement about you provide a better solution as if this is the only option that’s sitting out there. Well, the agreement itself was written in such a way that the U.N. would approve this first. Then the European union would approve it second. And then the United States Congress would get it third. That was intentionally done to try to add pressure to this Congress to say you can’t turn away from this, the rest of the world has signed on to it, so you can’t turn away from it. This Congress should not process things under fear, and this Congress should not process things saying you’re the last in line so you better sign up to where the rest of the world is. We have to look at this because we are directly affected by this.Remember, Iran has said over and over again that the united States is the great Satan in the world, and anyone who believes that Iran wants to be able to come alongside of us and be a peaceful member of the club is not actually reading what Iran is actually saying.
Not to mention this whole theory of if you don’t sign onto this agreement, there is no better deal… let me just mention something that was in “Bloomberg” last week. Last week, “Bloomberg” reported that the French senior diplomat, Jacques Audibert, the senior advisor to the president, the individual that LED the discussions in Iran with the P-5 plus one group, the one that was in the room earlier this month directly disputed Kerry’s claim that a Congressional rejection of the Iran deal would result in the worst of all worlds, the collapse of sanctions and Iran racing to a bomb without restrictions. The French senior diplomat actually said if Congress votes this down, there will be sabre rattling and some chaos for a year or two, but in the end, nothing will change and Iran will come back to the table and negotiate a better deal that will be to our advantage. Let me run that past you again. He said he thought if Congress voted this down, we would get a better deal. That means two things. One is he believes again that Iran will come back to the table on this, and he also believes there is a better deal out there, that this is not the best deal that we could get. After going through the agreement, I had very serious concerns about it.
My concerns are there are loopholes in this agreement big enough to drive a truck through, specifically this truck is the truck that is big enough to drive through.
Let me go through some of my concerns. This agreement assumes that the intelligence community can identify locations in a country the size of Texas, all the locations for possible inspection notify the IAEA, which places they should go, that we would be able to contact Iran, get permission from them to visit those sites, which takes approximately a month. I will go into greater detail on that. And that we would actually access those sites and find the information that we wanted there. The IAEA is reporting that they can really only track for uranium, so all of the other research that goes into building a nuclear weapon, they couldn’t actually track that after 24 days, but they feel confident that if there was uranium that was there, they could actually track that. If we’re in the final stages of them assembling something and we catch them and we’re able to get permission to get in there, we could get to it.
Not to mention the fact that the Iran leaders have said over and over again since the agreement was signed there is no way that the IAEA will get access to military sites in Iran. That’s a loophole big enough to drive this truck through. The iaea has to give 24 hours notice of its intent to inspect. Then Iran has 14 days to let the inspectors in. Of course, they can stall for ten more days in the agreement itself. That’s 25 days minimum to hide whatever they’re working on. That’s a lot of time to be able to move computer equipment and all sorts of installed things. At the end of it, the iaea would say we could actually determine if there was ever uranium there, even after 25 days, but basically nothing else.
We have incredible people that work in the intelligence community, that work for us, that most Americans will never see and will never meet, but there are some amazing patriotic Americans. But they can’t see everything, and they can’t catch every needle in the haystack that is in Iran. It would help the intelligence community, it would help us in our inspections, if we had access to the previous military dimensions for the nuclear weapons program that Iran has had on board, but the agreement itself only says we have to get all things from right now forward that we don’t have to have the documents previous.
And if we do, Iran will actually pick the documents that we see previous in their nuclear practice. So now we have to find a location with no previous documents with no way to be able to really see what research they’ve done and how advanced they are. You see, we’re looking for different things if they are at different stages of their research and development on a nuclear weapon. To say in the agreement we’re not going to have to get all the previous research they’ve done in the past is an enormous loophole in this. And it’s a definite detriment to what we’re doing in our own discovery. Iran has to decrease the number of refuge centrifuges. That’s true and I’m glad for that. They have to pull out what is a known stockpile and reduce that. I’m glad of that and that’s a positive thing. But Iran can continue to enrich uranium with 5,000 cascadeing centrifuges. Just in smaller amounts and using their older centrifuges.
Again, that sounds like a win but there’s no reason if you have peaceful purposes for uranium to keep 5,000 centrifuges spinning. If our only doing it for peaceful pumps. Iran can keep testing their centrifuges and small cascades, their IR-6’s and 8’s, and development on their most advanced form of centrifuges. Worst of all, they can keep over a thousand of their most advanced centrifuges still in the cascade and their most heavily fortified facility they just have to promise they won’t put uranium in that. But they can continue testing and development so when that time comes, they’ll be ready to be able to accelerate uranium faster there. So basically they can do everything in the process except put uranium at that point. We’re allowing them time to increase their research.
With a thousand centrifuges at the most advanced level. Why would we agree to that? That doesn’t seem to be a pathway to peaceful purposes, that seems to be a pathway to high-grade uranium in the development within country. The conventional, I’ve already mentioned already, but in just a few years, the conventional weapons ban is lifted in this agreement and allowing additional weapons to flood in to the single largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Not to mention the fact that what’s flooding in before all of those conventional weapons are billions of dollars that have been held in sanctions. There’s been no change on tactics of terrorism. There’s been no change of statement from the leadership of Iran, but they’re getting billions of dollars if they use as, under sanctions, if they use money to prop up money Yemen and form a coup there, and Assad in Syria, what are they going to do with an additional $60 billion, $70 billion?
This administration has said they desperately need the money for their infrastructure. They’re getting billions of dollars. You’re not going to tell me a major portion of that is not going to be used for terrorism. The administration has said we’ve built in snapback sanctions, that if Iran violates something, immediately we’ll snap a back the sanctions. But if you actually look at the details of how the snapback happens, it’s months and months in the process of getting everyone back together and forming an agreement we’re going to do that and if we snap back sanctions, written into the agreement it says Iran can then if we snap back sanctions, they can then kick out their part of the agreement as well and consider it a violation of the agreement and walk away.
And now there’s no restrictions on them. So basically we’re the ones that are punished if we ever snap back sanctions. If we snap back sanctions, Iran can say see, I told you so and immediately kick into the process they were into before. The advanced centrifuges are spinning, they’re still continuing, nothing was diminished on that. I didn’t even mention things like research and development can continue at all their weapons systems. All that’s unabated. The only limitation is around enriched uranium but everything else continues the same. I was also appalled as I went through this agreement and saw the leader of the Quds force, General Suleimani, who personally coordinated the creation, distribution and installation of improvised explosive devices in Iraq designed to kill Americans. This leader personally was engaged in killing hundreds of American soldiers in the war in Iraq, hundreds. The sanctions on that General is lifted so he can have normalized relationships worldwide and four American hostages remain. Can someone tell me why the murderer General of Americans, his sanctions are lifted but American citizens still remain hostages in Iran?
I have to tell you, I was stunned by many things that were in this agreement and how many loopholes were built into it. But none surprised me more than the part of the agreement that we made as a country, apparently, that if Iran is attacked, the United States will now come to their defense. Help me understand this. As they continue a nuclear weapons program, if a country steps in and attacks them and says no, you can’t do that, that’s a violation, we’re going to stop that, the United States is now agreeing to come to defend Iran as they’re advancing a nuclear program? Have we lost our mind? The administration, when asked about this said it won’t happen. If it won’t happen, why did we put it in the agreement? Why is it there at all?
There seems to be a struggle to get an agreement, more than it is a struggle to say we have got to prevent the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism from getting a nuclear weapon at any cost. This is not about slowing their nuclear program. It should be about stopping their nuclear program. This cannot come to our doorstep. This cannot come to the Middle East. And while the Middle East further weaponizes to prepare for a more aggressive Iran, we continue to step up and say we’ll help you weaponize and I don’t see how that’s deterring us from war. There is a better agreement out there. And we should push to get it. And we should take care of the loopholes that are big enough to drive a truck through and we should resolve this issue, and we should not pretend this is a partisan issue. This is not about Republican and Democrat. This is about peace and this is about trying to work out the differences and the differences are strong with all nations and Iran. Let’s work that out together and let’s keep pushing until we get this resolved but I cannot support this agreement with Iran. With that I yield back.”