Dear Senator Schumer:
Now that you have announced your opposition to the Iran Deal, you and your staff may mistakenly believe that it's time to kick back and enjoy the summer. While you have now managed to turn the attention of those who oppose the deal towards other elected officials ("a nation turns it's lonely eyes to you," Sen. Booker) your job is far from over.
A few weeks ago, Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind was arrested outside your office while protesting the deal. During his arrest he repeatedly led the crowd in the chant of "Schumer, be a shomer."
As you know, "shomer" is the Hebrew word for guardian. In essence, Hikind was urging you to use your influence and vote to protect Israel and vote against the deal. As one of your constituents, I urge you to redouble your efforts to support America's allies in the region, by urging both Congress and the president to take specific steps that will (a) strengthen these allies and (b) strengthen the Iran Deal, should the president's veto not be overridden.
They say the most dangerous place in Washington is between Chuck Schumer and microphone, it is time to use that microphone to do exactly what you have done throughout your career: improve on situations that can be improved and alert the public to issues that are being ignored.
In an effort to help you and your staff, I've organized several issues (some written about previously) that you can take a leadership position on right now. Each of these suggestions can and should be done whether the deal goes through or not.
Military and Intelligence Support
The most talked about weapon in the last few months is the Massive Ordinance Penetrator (MOP), a weapon designed specifically to destroy Iranian underground nuclear facilities. The United States has thus far refused to sell or supply the Israelis with it (due to the United States requirement to ensure Israel's quantitative military edge, the MOP cannot be sold to anyone else in the region). Israel lacks the strategic bomber capability to deliver the weapon. Granted, Israel's air bases may need to be redesigned to house huge aircraft like the B-52, B-2 or B-1 but is there any doubt that they would do the necessary work to accommodate the new equipment?
Your office is no doubt inundated by misguided complaints about American and Israeli military and intelligence cooperation, but you are no doubt aware of the truth. However "unprecedented" the current levels of cooperation and sharing may be, there is always room for improvement.
Additionally, getting the president's request for Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed through congress will enable the military to better defeat ISIL. This many not be a bad initiative for you to take on.
Strengthening of Non-Nuclear Sanctions
You wrote that the non-nuclear elements of the agreement give you the "most pause." For good reason, Iran is the world's leading sponsor of terrorism, and is currently indirectly engaged in conflict with its neighbors in Yemen and Syria not to mention (as you list) its additional terrorist actions in Israel, Lebanon, Iraq and Gaza. Whether or not this agreement goes into effect and lifts the non-nuclear sanctions, Iran is likely going to collect the more than $50 billion of its money currently being held in non-American foreign banks. Iran is the primary sponsor of Hezbollah, which has a $500 million budget. Even if Iran uses 99 percent of this windfall for internal growth and repair projects, with just one percent they can double Hezbollah's budget. This is worthy of your attention.
Upon Iran first being designated as a state-sponsor of terror many sanctions were automatically triggered including denial of U.S. foreign aid, a ban on arms and exports and sales, restrictions over the export of dual-use items and the requirement that the U.S. oppose multilateral lending to Iran. This did not take place under President Obama or Bush (either one), it took place under Ronald Reagan in 1984. Clearly more can and should be done on the sanctions front to limit Iran's ability to finance terror. President Obama has said that with the conclusion of the nuclear agreement, America will be more readily able to focus on Iran's other nefarious actions. This should happen whether there is a deal or not. The U.S. government should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.
Additionally, again regardless if the deal goes into effect or not, you should lead the charge to prohibit any company (domestic or international) that trades on an American based exchange (NYSE, NASDAQ) from doing business or signing contracts with Iran. On top of this, there should be a publicly available list of all international companies doing business with Iran. It should be the policy of the U.S. government that any company doing business with Iran is not welcome to do business with the U.S. government in any manner.
With the American government once again leading the rest of the world, it should clearly present what the economic and diplomatic ramifications (i.e. sanctions) will be for any country that starts down the path of creating or acquiring a nuclear weapon. This may be the most effective way to prevent a dangerous nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
In your Medium.com post, you mention inspections only once, in the context of the 24-day delay. While you may be misreading that aspect of the deal, it ignores the fact that the IAEA -- the international organization tasked with inspecting and verifying Iranian compliance to the deal -- has the same budget as the Baltimore Police Department. On no planet, should an organization with that important of a duty be charged with the level of vigilance we all expect for the sum total of $350 million. Even without a deal, this organization should be better funded.
Set aside for a moment, the technical details and minutiae the inspectors will need to monitor and focus on the potentially larger issue of Iran constructing another "secret" facility. In terms of scale, trying to find a facility like the underground Fordow facility -- with an aboveground presence of only about one square kilometer in a country the size of Texas (1.6 million square kilometers) is like trying to find a single green die on a soccer field.
The United States and Japan currently provide about 35 percent of the IAEA's budget, but America can provide far more. Due to the lack of diplomatic ties with Iran, American inspectors would be unable to have the necessary diplomatic protection and therefore will not be part of the inspection teams. However, it is expected that the IAEA will receive the overwhelming majority of the intelligence it will use to guide its inspections from American and Israeli sources. America can still do more. We can increase our voluntary funding of the IAEA and urge our fellow P5+1 countries (U.S., U.K., China, Russia, France and Germany) to do the same.
Sen. Schumer, you have staked out a position on the Iran Deal that your constituents (this one included) are divided on. Whether it is the right decision remains to be seen, but you will no doubt face a wall of criticism one way or the other. Take the opportunity to do what you do best -- roll up your sleeves and get to work on these important issues that need to be addressed no matter what happens in the coming weeks.