September 10, 2015

Hirono: Put Politics Aside & Focus On The Facts Of Iran Deal

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Today, Senator Mazie K. Hirono took to the Senate floor to support President Obama’s landmark international agreement to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Legislation to disapprove of the Iran deal failed to advance on a 58-42 vote. Senator Hirono voted against advancing the legislation.

Read Senator Hirono’s full remarks below, as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President,

I support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that we’ve agreed to with our international partners and Iran. This agreement, implemented effectively, is the best option we have to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

I sit on the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees where we’ve held numerous hearings. I’ve engaged with the Administration. I’ve met with our international partners.

I’ve studied the deal itself. I’ve read the commentary and analyses from all different perspectives.

I’ve asked hard questions. I’ve reached my conclusions based on the facts before us.

This decision was not easy, and should not be easy. Like every member of this body, I’m committed to Israel’s security.

I’m concerned about Iran’s statements against Israel, and support for terrorism. These concerns are real and valid.

Nuclear proliferation is one of the most consequential national security matters facing the world. Clearly, a nuclear Iran is unacceptable to all of us.

So, I would expect that any agreement to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is given serious, thoughtful consideration.

Yet, there are those in this body and elsewhere that opposed even the idea of a diplomatic solution—at least one negotiated by the Obama Administration.

They’ve made clear their intention to oppose the agreement even while the negotiations were taking place.

For the first time I’m aware of in U.S. history dozens of Senators signed an open letter to a foreign government—the government of an adversary—stating that any agreement reached by this Administration would be undone.

Before the actual ink was put to paper on the agreement, that was the message.

Then within hours of the deal’s announcement, the same voices that opposed negotiations in the first place started denouncing it as a bad deal. Some claimed we could get a better deal.

Others said that no deal was preferable—despite the fact that Iran was within 2-3 months of getting a bomb.

I’m fairly certain these people hadn’t read the deal before they made such statements at the outset.

That’s not how we should conduct foreign policy. Our national security, the security of Israel, and the stability of the Middle East are too important to turn into campaign ads or political rhetoric.

As we prepare to vote this afternoon, I’d ask my colleagues to set politics aside, and focus on the facts.

The fact is, this agreement is the best option we have to stop Iran from getting a bomb.

First, we’ve reached this agreement with the backing of our international partners, including China and Russia. I met with the ambassadors of these countries and asked them point blank—would they come back to the table to negotiate a new deal?

The answer was no. The UK ambassador to the U.S. also said no.

I’d remind my colleagues, that after decades of U.S. unilateral sanctions, it was the weight of international sanctions that forced Iran to the table.

We need our partners to make this deal work, and our partners have committed that if we choose this path they will be there.

Second, the terms of the agreement, implemented effectively, cut off Iran’s ability to create a bomb. Their uranium stockpiles will be all but eliminated.

We’ll have unprecedented oversight over the entire nuclear supply chain.

The U.S intelligence community has indicated that it will gain valuable new insights through this agreement.

We’ll have veto authority over what goes into Iran, and we know what has to come out of Iran.

These unprecedented oversight provisions have the support of arms control experts, nuclear scientists, diplomats, military, and intelligence leaders who believe that this deal will make the difference.

Finally, this agreement isn’t about trust. The deal requires verification that Iran is cooperating before sanctions are lifted. If Iran cheats, we can snap back sanctions with international support.

We can initiate military operations if need be.

Let me repeat: the deal before us doesn’t prevent the U.S. from taking military action if needed.

This agreement is not perfect. However, rejecting this deal means risking our international cooperation, our security, and our ability to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

Based on the facts before us, this agreement deserves our support.

Let’s put the politics aside. I urge my colleagues to support the agreement.

I yield the floor.