Oklahoman: Jim Inhofe: Existing sanctions on Iran must continue

By:  Sen. Jim Inhofe

President Obama's rush to reach a nuclear agreement has undermined years of bipartisan action to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. At a time when harsh sanctions have inflicted unprecedented pressure on the Iranian economy, Obama's agreement with President Hassan Rouhani has weakened our leverage and legitimized a brutal state sponsor of terrorism.

In this agreement, the West tacitly recognizes Iran's right to enrich uranium, allows it to keep its nearly 19,000 centrifuges spinning, suspends sanctions and unlocks roughly $7 billion in assets, all in exchange for a brief pause in Iranian nuclear development activities. There is little to show for this reckless gamble. It won't stop Iran's pursuit of a nuclear bomb, which our intelligence once reported could be achieved by 2015, and it leaves the world less safe.

Not surprisingly, the agreement also has alarming shortfalls for a deal negotiated with a regime that has repeatedly deceived us and concealed its nuclear program for over two decades. It fails to require any commitments from Iran on nuclear development after the interim agreement expires in six months. It fails to require Iran to dismantle any of its enrichment capability, such as the destruction of existing centrifuges or its heavy-water plutonium reactor. And it fails to address two vital components of Iran's burgeoning nuclear weapons pursuit: weaponization and ballistic missile development. Over the years, Iran's enrichment program has far outpaced the other two programs, and now this deal permits Iran the time and money to bring the rest up to speed.

The outlines of President Obama's deal are eerily similar to the nuclear negotiations with North Korea of the 1990s and early 2000s. Despite promises to discontinue its nuclear program amid offers of aid and the easing of international isolation, North Korea now possesses a growing nuclear arsenal. Let us not forget we've also been here before with Iran when in 2003 the country's then-chief negotiator Rouhani made what was considered a precedent-setting agreement with Britain, France and Germany, but it proved short lived.

Americans should heed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's sentiments when he called the agreement a “historic mistake” that is making the “world a much more dangerous place.” History will prove he is right. Iran has long been known as one of the world's foremost rogue actors. The country also continues to violently repress its people, bankroll the slaughter of thousands of Syrians, support terrorism around the globe, and remain committed to the annihilation of the state of Israel.

Obama must demand that Iran dismantle its nuclear program, not merely take its foot off of the accelerator. Actions, not hollow promises, must be the basis of any long-term agreement. I don't trust Iran. I don't trust Rouhani. Until Iran takes clear and verifiable steps to this end, existing sanctions must continue to be enforced and additional sanctions should be considered. Anything short of this would be dangerous for our national security and that of our allies.

Inhofe, R-Tulsa, is ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.