What is it worth to this country to prevent a nuclear Iran? No one wants a war, especially those of us who have fought in one before. But for those of us who have worn the battle-tested uniforms of our nation in times of conflict, we fear that the Iran nuclear deal will make the region and the world far more dangerous, and actually increases, not decreases the possibility of armed conflict.
As a veteran who opposes this deal without supporting war, I fear that in a well-intentioned effort to ensure peace in the near–term, we may be making the world more perilous for our children. Iran is expanding its influence in the Gulf region and beyond. It is boldly assaulting commercial shipping vessels, training and arming fighters to neighboring countries to help overthrow governments, and is sending terrorists to the borders of our ally, the democratic state of Israel.
We are not just negotiating with any country, but with one that has American blood on its hands. In 1983, Hezbollah suicide bombers in Lebanon, in conjunction with their Iranian patrons, detonated explosive vests and murdered 241 American military servicemen. More recently, Iran smuggled sophisticated weaponry to Iraqi militias, which were used to kill and maim thousands of American troops.
Yet the Iran nuclear agreement, signed on July 14 in Vienna, treats Iran as a normal country, ignoring its history of malign activities and its unabashed hostility toward the United States. Upon implementation, this deal will provide Tehran with $100 billion in frozen assets almost immediately, filling the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ coffers at a time when Iran’s strategic plan includes inciting violence in places like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and Gaza.
As a veteran of this country, I cannot stand idly by as we align ourselves with Iran. It would be one thing to provide Iran with sanctions relief for a deal that is foolproof, but instead, we are on the precipice of granting Iran its frozen assets in exchange for a bad deal.
Regrettably, the Iran nuclear agreement fails to meet the United States’ own objectives. Perhaps most alarming in the contents of the Iran deal is the porous inspections structure. Rather than insisting on “anytime, anywhere” inspections, the deal provides for a delay of 24 days or longer for inspections of undeclared sites. Under this so-called “managed access” regime, Iran could have weeks to remove any evidence of wrongdoing. Iran will provide its own soil samples from the Parchin military base, and no American inspectors will ever set foot in Iran.
Moreover, the existence of two secret side agreements negotiated between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) will make it nearly impossible for the United States to understand Iran’s prior nuclear weaponization work with certainty. By its own admission, the IAEA explained in July that “No American is ever going to see them [the side deals].” Such a development means that we will never be party to the contents of the undisclosed agreement, which are so critical to understanding Iran’s prior weaponization efforts.
The deal permits Iran to acquire conventional arms in just five years and to continue its ballistic missile program in eight years, or possibly sooner. Iran, the nation with the largest number of ballistic missiles in the Middle East, can then legally begin expanding its intercontinental ballistic missile program.
Money. Weapons. Missiles. Bombs. The nuclear deal proposes that the world’s number one state sponsor of terrorism be permitted to buy, acquire, and likely export its own brand of violence across the most unstable region in the world, threatening the lives of countless Americans abroad, servicemen/women and civilians alike. The bottom line is that we cannot trust a regime that has American blood on its hands and chants “death to America,” all the while continuing its nefarious activities in the Middle East; it undermines our national interests, our national security, and the erodes the trust and relationships we have built with our allies.
Above all, our goal must remain preventing, not simply delaying an Iranian nuclear weapons capability. Congress must rise above partisanship and rhetoric as it deliberates what may be the most consequential foreign policy decision of our time. When put to the test of answering the question, “will this make our country safer?” this deal falls dangerously short. It is therefore essential for the security of our nation that Congress rejects this flawed nuclear agreement.
Stroud served in the U.S. Air Force from 1976-1997 and retired as a highly decorated first sergeant. He served as the VFW National commander-in-chief from July 2014 to July 2015 and currently lives in Hawthorne, Nevada.