In the Weekly Republican Address on Aug. 8, Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, previewed the upcoming Senate debate on the president’s Iran deal.
When the Senate reconvenes in September, it will consider a resolution to disapprove of the president’s Iran nuclear deal.
“The real decision for lawmakers isn’t this deal or war,” says Corker, which is how the president frames the debate. “The real decision is whether Congress believes this deal is in our national interest.”
A full transcript follows. (The printed version was edited for length in this week’s issue of The Bartlett Express.)
Weekly Republican Address on Aug. 8
“I’m Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee, and I’m honored to serve as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“Over the last several weeks, Congress has been reviewing the nuclear agreement between Iran, the United States, and other world powers.
“The deal has profound implications for the safety, stability, and security of our country and our allies. And it deserves close scrutiny from Congress on behalf of the American people.
“That is why — despite stiff initial opposition from the White House — Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to force the president to submit the nuclear deal to Congress so lawmakers can review it, debate it, and vote.
“As we evaluate this deal, we must understand the character and nature of the Iranian regime.
“This is the same regime that today remains the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world.
“It is the same regime that is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. troops in Iraq.
“And it is the same regime that is funding terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah and Syria’s dictator Bashar al Assad.
“The Iranian Supreme Leader applauds those who chant ‘death to America’ and we know they threaten the State of Israel as they stoke violence and instability throughout the region.
“That is why the stakes of this nuclear deal are so high and the consequences are so great.
“Over the years, Iran has routinely violated international agreements through development of an illicit nuclear program that included covert facilities and previous work on a nuclear weapon.
“In response, the United States, led by efforts in Congress, built an international sanctions regime to isolate Iran economically, imposing a severe cost on their country that ultimately brought Iran to the negotiating table.
“In 2012, President Obama declared that he would only accept a deal requiring Iran to ‘end their nuclear program.’
“It was a goal that both Republicans and Democrats rallied behind, and still do today.
“That’s why there is bipartisan concern with the deal that has been presented.
“Rather than ‘end’ Iran’s nuclear program, this deal allows them to industrialize it over time — with our approval.
“Instead of the once promised ‘anytime, anywhere’ inspections, this agreement gives Iran nearly a month of advanced notice to hide any evidence of developing a nuclear weapon.
“And this deal won’t allow a single U.S. inspector on the ground, relying on an arm of the UN to conduct those inspections.
“Even worse, there are two secret side deals — we can’t ever see — that appear to restrict inspectors’ access to key sites.
“And after only nine months, all major sanctions will be relieved. At that point, the leverage shifts from us to Iran.
“Iran will get access to roughly $100 billion in cash within a few months, maybe nine, some of which it will use to help fund terrorism and instability.
“Over the next decade, it will gain hundreds of billions of dollars of additional funds.
“And we will have paved the way for Iran to have an internationally approved nuclear program.
“Iran will go from a weakened state to an economically robust country, without being forced to change any of its roguish, destructive behavior.
“The president has said repeatedly that this is a choice between accepting this deal or going to war. It is not.
“Throughout the negotiations, the administration routinely asserted that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ and threatened to walk away if necessary.
“So clearly there was always another option for the White House — and it wasn’t war.
“Our nation’s top military general also confirmed that such a stark choice between this deal or war was never discussed during his conversations with the president.
“And in addition, the administration, Iran, and our partners have known for several months that Congress would have a role to play in whatever the United States will accept in the final agreement.
“Unfortunately, the administration has tried to undermine the spirit of the law by going straight to the UN for approval in hopes of pressuring Congress to accept it.
“Congress must not be intimidated by this.
“The real decision for lawmakers isn’t this deal or war. The real decision is whether Congress believes this deal is in our national interest.
“Do we believe this deal will prevent Iran from getting the capability to develop a nuclear weapon?
“Do we believe this deal will make America safer?
“When Congress returns in September, it will consider a resolution to disapprove of the Iran deal. This decision should not be taken lightly.
“It could be one of the most consequential votes we cast in our time in public service.
“There is perhaps no greater geopolitical issue facing the world today than preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.
“And so we owe it to the American people to have a thorough and thoughtful debate.
“Thank you for listening. It is an honor to speak with you in this way and it is a great privilege to serve the people of Tennessee.”
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) may be reached via his website’s contact page.