On the Iran Deal, Ignore the 30 Second Ads

The best option to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb and the best option to avoid another war in the Middle East is this deal.
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The TV ads from the opponents of the Iran nuclear agreement are already appearing in our living rooms, full of grave warnings for the world if Congress approves the deal reached by our President and supported by our allies such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia, Japan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and many others.

My advice to my colleagues and the public: Ignore the 30 second ads. Ignore any commercials from groups supporting the deal, too. Instead, read this historic agreement yourself. The full text has been posted online.

Thirty second ads may tell you all you need to know about a dishwasher or a tube of toothpaste, but this issue is so much bigger than a 30-second ad. The consequences are too important for the United States, Israel and the world to allow this decision to come down to the same-old divisive political tactics. This should not be the way we debate issues of war and peace, and this should not be the way we approach a matter of conscience.

No matter what side you are on, nobody can tell you in 30 seconds about all the important provisions in this agreement. No one can tell you in 30 seconds about the broad international support for this deal - now 92 nations and counting.

Yes, our great ally, Israel, is on the other side. I respect that. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a strong voice against this deal, but the record shows that he was also a strong supporter of the Iraq War, which he said would be good for Israel and the world. Now we see with clear eyes that the real winner of that disastrous war was Iran - not to mention ISIS, whose key strategists include former Saddam Hussein operatives.

It is important to note there is a growing chorus of Israeli voices who believe this deal should be supported. Voices like the former head of Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, who called it the "best possible alternative" and the former mayor of Haifa who said this agreement "must not be rejected."

They believe what I believe: The best option to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb and the best option to avoid another war in the Middle East is this deal.

How did I come to this conclusion? The framework that was announced in April by the P5 +1 nations outlined a comprehensive approach to ensure Iran's nuclear program could only be used for civilian purposes. I said at the time that if the final agreement met the goals of the framework, I would support it.

This final deal not only meets those objectives, it exceeds them. It includes the most intrusive inspection regime ever negotiated and snapback sanctions, which will ensure that if the Iranians cheat, they will be caught and face serious ramifications.

This week I met with the ambassadors of the P5+1 nations, and what they told me underscored why I support this deal. As the British ambassador explained, rejecting this deal would play right into the hands of the Iranian hardliners, accelerate Iran's ability to obtain a bomb, and collapse the international sanctions regime.

Under this deal, Iran has made a binding commitment to the world, forswearing the ability to ever build a nuclear bomb. As the first paragraph of the agreement states, "Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons." That sentence is black and white for all the world to see.

Should we trust them to keep their word? No. Should we vigorously inspect them while also cutting off their pathways to build a bomb with uranium or plutonium? Yes. And if Iran walks away from its obligations, the consequences will be severe.

I am under no illusions that this agreement would make Iran a positive or even reasonable player on the world stage. Iran is a bad and dangerous actor, and that is why its non-nuclear activities will remain subject to tough sanctions. But would we rather have a bad and dangerous actor with a nuclear bomb or without one? The answer is obvious - and that is why we need this deal.

A deal by its very definition is never perfect. But the alternative is as clear as can be. The alternative won't be tougher sanctions because the rest of the world will walk away if this deal is rejected by America. We will be alone.

The alternative will be war because we know Iran is close to a nuclear bomb and we know that is unacceptable.

As a member of Congress, votes of conscience of this magnitude come along only a few times in your career. For me, this will be the most important vote of conscience since my vote to oppose the war in Iraq.

The difference today is that we have a Commander in Chief who is determined to use diplomacy - not war - as the first option to solve one of the world's most dangerous challenges.

After a disastrous war in Iraq that cost the lives of more than 4,000 American men and women - and by the day brings us more dangerous, unintended consequences - it is time to give hard-nosed diplomacy a chance to succeed.

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer is the longest serving current member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the author of the last two major U.S.-Israeli security laws (Pub. L. 112-150, Pub. L. 113-296).

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