Last week I attended the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, DC. This is the largest pro-Israel gathering in the United States, and its annual aim is to strengthen and enhance the relationship between the United States and the state of Israel. As strategic partners, the US and Israel have long stood for the rule of law, human rights, and democratic values of self-governance. As a result, Israel is not only America’s greatest ally in the Middle East, but, arguably, our greatest ally the world. From economic development to military strategy, Israel has helped advance American interests in the world, as surely as America has aided Israel’s national security and economic prosperity.
The point of my attending AIPAC annually is to ensure that South Carolina remains a leading voice in America for a strong US-Israel alliance.
This year’s conference brought a sobering view on the current situation the West faces with Iran, which poses a grave threat to both the United States and Israel. The Iranian regime is continuing full-steam-ahead in their quest to obtain nuclear weapons, a possibility that should send a shudder down the spine of every freedom lover the world over. The Iranians have vowed to use such weapons of mass destruction against Israel and her interests, but they have also, repeatedly, threatened US national security. For these reasons, I have opposed the Obama Administration’s attempts to broker an interim agreement with Iran from the beginning. The notion that the Administration would consider scaling-back sanctions against Iran’s economy, while the Iranian regime continues to use what’s left of the nation’s wealth to pursue nuclear weapons, is baffling. It seems that the Obama Administration is more interested in brokering a deal with Iran than Iran is interested in brokering a deal with the United States.
In pursuit of this short-sighted and dangerous foreign policy, Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama have alluded to halting current sanctions on the Iranian regime, while opposing any new sanctions that Congress is considering. In fact, President Obama has threatened to veto any new economic sanctions that Congress may pass against Iran. This is reverse reasoning: the Iranians are going through the motions of a negotiation precisely because the sanctions are working, and they know that they need them lifted to finalize their nuclear weapons program. Relaxing the sanctions removes the incentive to negotiate on the part of the Iranians; it certainly isn’t likely to bring them to serious negotiations about giving-up their weapons development.
This is exactly what North Korea did with the Clinton Administration; they pretended to hold negotiations, thus giving them relief from economic sanctions that were slowing their nuclear development, while building their bombs behind-the-scenes. Iran is simply doing the same thing. They need relief from crippling economic sanctions led by the United States, thus their seeming willingness to negotiate with the Obama Administration. Make no mistake: the Iranian regime is still pursuing nuclear weapons. For this reason, I believe that Congress is right in pursuing a new round of sanctions, further isolating Iran, in the event these interim agreement negotiations fail (and they almost certainly will). Absent the credible threat of new sanctions, Iran will have no incentive to truly negotiate with the United States. Furthermore, with current sanctions set to sunset, the absence of new Congressional sanctions legislation will ensure that companies from all over the world start pouring resources into Iran, giving the regime just money it needs to finish its nuclear program just like North Korea. In fact, over 117 companies have, reportedly, sought potential entry into Iran if current sanctions are loosened and no new sanctions are imposed.
We must stop a nuclear Iran at all costs. This crazy regime with its hands on nuclear weapons would pose a grave threat not only to Israel, but the United States and our allies around the world. Let’s make sure that our great South Carolina congressional delegation knows that we have their backs when they vote for new rounds of sanctions against Iran. Let’s make sure they know that South Carolinians want new sanctions against Iran now, so that we don’t have to deal with them as a nuclear state in the not-too-distant future.