President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran will put the U.S. at direct risk of nuclear devastation, former Vice President Dick Cheney warned on Tuesday.
“With the removal of restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program, this agreement will give Iran the means to launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland,” Cheney said at the American Enterprise Institute.
“I know of no nation in history that has agreed to guarantee that the means of its own destruction will be in the hands of another nation, particularly one that is hostile,” he added.
“What President Obama is asking the United States Congress to do is unique — historically and dangerously unique. The results could well be catastrophic.”
In particular, Cheney pointed to the vast sums of money that Iran will receive from the lifting of sanctions — which some have estimated will reach $150 billion. He also worried about the eventual lifting of restrictions on conventional and ballistic arms sales and Tehran’s support for terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas.
Obama has been “willfully blind” to the consequences of the deal, Cheney warned, which will “facilitate and enable the Iranian regime’s support for terror and terrorist groups, including those who have attacked the United States and are threatening our security, our allies and our interests.”
“This deal gives Tehran the means to launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland,” he added. “It threatens the security of our Arab allies across the Middle East. It threatens the security of Europe, and it should not be forgotten: This deal has vast implications for the future security of the Jewish people.
“Arming and funding Iran while simultaneously providing them with a pathway to a nuclear arsenal is not an act of peace,” Cheney continued.
“It’s not, as President Obama claims, the only alternative to war. It is madness.”
Among Cheney’s supporters in attendance on Tuesday morning was Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), an ardent opponent of the nuclear agreement who has helped lead the charge against so-called secret side deals signed between Iran and nuclear regulators.
The Obama administration was quick to hit back at Cheney, whom they have previously used as a foil.
Cheney’s hawkish cheerleading, the White House said in a new video on Tuesday, was akin to his strident support for the 2003 invasion into Iraq.
“Vice President Dick Cheney: Wrong then, wrong now,” the White House claimed in the video.
Cheney’s remarks on Tuesday were briefly interrupted by a protester, who seemed to support the deal and claim that Cheney was pushing the nation toward war.
“Dick Cheney is a war criminal,” the woman shouted. “We want peace.”
The crowd at the conservative think tank booed the woman, who was quickly led out by security.
Both the House and Senate will vote on the deal later this week, when a majority of lawmakers are sure to oppose it.
It remains unclear, however, whether or not Democratic supporters of the deal will be able to block a resolution of disapproval from reaching the president’s desk. If they fail, Democratic senators have already assured that they will be able to uphold Obama’s filibuster.
Senate Democratic leaders have rejected the claim that they will be trying to filibuster the agreement. They note that legislation of any significance has been subjected to a 60-vote threshold in recent years, and there’s no reason why this vote would be any different.
Opponents of the accord have rejected those arguments. Cheney on Tuesday blasted Democrats for trying to silence the people’s representatives in Congress.
“Anyone unwilling to stand up and not be counted on this deal should not be in elected office,” the former vice president declared.
In addition to the debate on Capitol Hill, the nuclear deal has also become a popular topic on the campaign trail for presidential candidates in both parties.
Republicans have been universally critical of the agreement, and have bickered over who would kill the agreement first as president.
Cheney said that the first goal for an incoming Republican president in 2016 would be to replenish the coffers of the military, in order to more effectively counter a stronger Iran and other global opponents. The Pentagon has been gutted, Cheney said, through both the Obama administration’s policies and across-the-board spending cuts from Congress.
“I think that a most significant thing we have to do before we do anything else is rebuild our military,” Cheney said.
--This report was updated at 10:17 a.m.