Democratic State Lawmakers in California Should Not Try and Derail the Iran Deal

Two diplomats from the United States and Iran extending their hands for a handshake on an agreement between the countries.
Two diplomats from the United States and Iran extending their hands for a handshake on an agreement between the countries.

In a perplexing statement released last week, Assembly members Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) and Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno) called on Congress to reject the Iran agreement and called for "a better deal -- one that truly blocks all Iranian pathways to a bomb."

Typically, when California lawmakers feel strongly about a foreign policy issue, they introduce a measure to the legislature. Although they are both members of the majority party in Sacramento, that was not the case.

According to The White House, if Congress rejected the agreement, the Iranian government could produce a nuclear bomb in two to three months. In addition, this deal blocks all known pathways to a nuclear weapon. Iran has also agreed to allow international inspectors from the IAEA to monitor every stage of their nuclear weapons program.

In a recent interview, Secretary of State John Kerry said emphatically, "If Congress were to kill this, then we have no inspections, we have no sanctions, and we have no ability to negotiate."

Kerry also stated recently in a Congressional hearing that Iran was "marching to a bomb" when President Obama took office and "we've rolled that back" thanks to the interim agreement.

This week, Kerry came out with his strongest rebuke to critics of the deal in a speech at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia: "Without this agreement, the Iranians would have several potential pathways to a bomb; with it, they won't have any."

Also this week, a 34th Democratic senator agreed to support the agreement, thus eliminating Congress' ability to kill the deal by overriding a presidential veto of a disapproval resolution. President Obama is seeking seven more votes in the Senate to eliminate a vote on a disapproval resolution and the need for a veto.

Brent Scowcroft, the former national security advisor who served in two Republican administrations says that if we squander this "epochal moment" we will contribute to further turmoil in the Middle East.

Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson who played a key role when the United Nations sanctions were set in place in 2006 says, "I think it's totally unrealistic to believe that if we backed out of this deal that the multilateral sanctions would stay in place."

In July, President Barack Obama said in a speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention, "Instead of rushing into another conflict, I believe that sending our sons and daughters into harm's way must always be a last resort, and that before we put their lives on the line, we should exhaust every alternative."

The American public is painfully aware of the disastrous consequences we endured in blood and treasure from the misguided Iraq war. This international agreement is backed by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- The United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France plus Germany.

It is not helpful to our foreign policy for two lone California lawmakers to issue an unrealistic statement in the final weeks of a high-stakes debate urging Congress to reject an international agreement. Like any diplomatic deal, there will be risks and uncertainties, but the interim agreement has already demonstrated that thorough inspections and substantive negotiations with Iran is possible.

Moreover, President Obama says, "If we determine that Iran has violated this agreement, we are in a position to reimpose all of the multilateral sanctions."

It would have been more appropriate if the statement from the two Assembly members had ended after the first paragraph when they praised Secretary of State John Kerry and the negotiating team stating, "Their leadership and dedication to diplomacy are emblematic of what makes America truly exceptional."

I would go one step further and say Secretary Kerry's impressive statesmanship in presenting a compelling argument worthy of Congressional support may be his finest hour in his long service to our nation.