President Donald Trump has given little indication that he is poised to take anything other than a hardline approach to Tehran, but three Republican senators want to make sure it stays that way. In a letter to the president this week, Marco Rubio of Florida, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and Ted Cruz of Texas urged Trump to use the toughest economic measures possible to force Iran back into compliance with the terms of the 2015 nuclear agreement.
“Regime officials have signaled they intend to creep towards a nuclear weapon, while demanding concessions and promising to ‘reverse’ their violations if their demands are met,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to reject their nuclear blackmail.”
The U.S. has already restored its own sanctions against Iran, but the international sanctions lifted by the Obama-era deal remain off the table for now. This despite the fact that Iran has openly admitted – if not bragged – about having enriched uranium beyond the limits set by the agreement. This announcement has led to scorn from our former partners in the deal, but as yet no one in Europe or China is talking about taking the case back to the United Nations.
It may seem strange that Trump would be in a position to “snap back” sanctions on a deal that he withdrew from last year, but the senators were quick to note that the U.S. was still an original signatory to the JCPOA. That gives us a say in whether or not Iran is in violation, and whether or not they should face international consequences.
“Paragraph 10 of the resolution defines the United States as a participant for the purpose of invoking the mechanism. We urge you to do so,” the senators wrote.
In their letter to the president, Rubio, Cotton, and Cruz reminded Trump that the deal was flawed from the beginning, putting few restrictions on Iran’s ability to cheat while filling Tehran’s treasury with billions in terrorism-marked dollars.
This structured deal, they argued, allowed “the Iranians to boost its military and terrorist activities regionally and globally, even as they maintained nuclear weapons infrastructure, periodically exceeded restrictions on nuclear materials.”
“That’s how the deal was always supposed to work, that’s how it did work, and that’s why it is imperative that the United States now respond forcefully to Iran’s systematic violations by ending civil-nuclear waivers and invoking the U.N. snapback,” the senators argued.
While our former partners in the deal are urging caution and blaming the U.S. for escalating these tensions, it is beyond time to recognize that Iran is taking full advantage of their reluctance to act. No one wants war, but it is imperative that we stop Iran cold in their tracks if they have their sights set on a nuke.