Home » Budget Industry » Heritage Panel Warns of Lingering Iran Nuclear Threat

Heritage Panel Warns of Lingering Iran Nuclear Threat


As a number of congressional panels review the nuclear accord with Iran this week, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said Tehran remains “a threshold nuclear power” and even some Democrats who supported the deal are having “buyers’ remorse.”

Rep. Ron de Santis (R-Fla.), who serves on the Middle East and Africa subcommittee, told attendees at a Heritage Foundation forum Wednesday in Washington, D.C., that Iran presents a threat “unlike others we have faced around the world,” including from the former Soviet Union and even today from North Korea—because of Tehran’s “end of times” view of the world.

That view throws into question the strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction being a deterrent for the use of nuclear weapons, he said.

“It is an executive-to-executive agreement” that could be ended when a new administration takes office in January, the Iraq veteran, who is in his second term, added. “It is not the law of the land” as a treaty or statute passed by Congress and signed by the president would be.

De Santis said the administration of President Barack Obama “wants to keep this deal above all else,” despite Iran remaining the leading state sponsor of terrorism and its flouting of U.N. resolutions concerning ballistic-missile tests.

Watch live streaming video from thfallison at livestream.com

Other shortcomings in the accord that Republican congressional leaders and critics, such as James Phillips, a Heritage Foundation participant in the program, cite include:

Not putting strings on how Iran spends the more than $100 billion it received when its assets held by the United States were unfrozen, the side deals on where, how and when inspections by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency are to be conducted and changes its parliament made in the wording when it approved the agreement.

Acknowledging that Congress’ role is limited for now, de Santis called for robust oversight of Iran’s compliance with the agreement, stopping the financing of its terror activities through its Revolution Guards’ Quds force and having states, such as Florida did, impose sanctions of their own on Tehran.

“You want to have as much pressure on the table as possible.”

In answer to a question, de Santis said, the “Iran deal has much less chance of succeeding” than the one the one negotiated by President Bill Clinton’s administration did in the 1990s.

In the forum that followed, Fred Fleitz, from the Center for Security Policy, took up a point on centrifuges and enriched uranium that James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, raised before the Senate Armed Services Committee a day earlier.

“We allowed Iran to keep enriching uranium” that could be used in weapons and continue to modernize the centrifuges it uses in its nuclear power program. The result, even without cheating, will be a nation “capable of [possessing] many, many more weapons” than it had before the September agreement.

“It’s going to be hard to sustain the deal,” Patrick Clawson, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said. He said this was true not only on the United States’, Russia’s and the other countries’ side who negotiated with Iran but also in Tehran.

The falling price of oil drawing down the economy, continued joblessness and unmet demands for better lives and political change by Iranians are factors that need to be considered, he added.

Phillips, a Middle East expert at Heritage, said the lifting of sanctions and the freeing of assets is “not going to be a silver bullet” in turning Iran’s economy around. But having more money to spend allows Tehran potentially “to alter the balance of power in the region.” He cited its announced plans to buy advanced air defense systems from Russia.

Rep. de Santis predicted that the agreement and combating terror would be in the political debate during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Fleitz called upon John Kasich, governor of Ohio, and Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, to join the other Republican candidates in agreeing to “tear up this agreement on their first day in office” if elected.

“I’d rather see the Iranians tear it up,” Clawson said as he finished his presentation.

  • Ken N

    A conservative think tank warns against the Iran deal?? Shocker!!

    • Joey P

      Or maybe a think tank that has seen these nuke deals never be complied with i.e. North Korea.
      Prediction- Iran will pursue nukes and successfully develop an atomic bomb. And the UN and US will issue stern condemnations.

    • Steve

      How about this, Obama’s own Director of National Intelligence after the deal signing (testimony in January before SASC)(have a cute Obama talking-point answer for that):

      “Iran probably views JCPOA [Iran deal] as a means to remove sanctions while preserving nuclear capabilities, as well as the option to eventually expand its nuclear infrastructure,” said Clapper.

      “We do not know whether Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons,” Clapper admitted.

      “I think this was a deliberate message of defiance and that the Iranians are going to continue with an aggressive program to develop their missile force,” said Clapper, speaking about Iran’s missile tests after the agreement.

      • Roland

        Here we go again. People who won’t allow something to work. Why? Because they didn’t do it. Let the deal work and let the United Nations do their job.Ten years is nothing . Just remember sanctions do not work. They only cause more hatred.

        • Steve

          Here we go again, right Roland/Ken N, those pesky people who want to state the facts. Stating the facts, as relayed by Obama’s chief of intelligence, is counterproductive, I guess. Just remember, sticking your end in the sand does not work,

          I suppose you were against sanctions against South Africa, right?

  • Taji Hanson

    If we never delinked terror and human rights abuses from the deal and kept the pressure of sanctions on during a time of plummeting oil prices and funding of three proxy wars at once in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, we would have bankrupted Iran the way we forced the Soviet Union to shut down. But no, we are going to give Iran 150 billion to pay for a new Syria invasion and new fighters, rockets, missiles and arms from the Russia. And we actually think we can trust Iran to fulfill its end of the bargain? We’re just going to keep covering for them politically so we can walk around saying we brought “peace in our time” while the Middle East flames up again.

    • Curtis Conway

      The United States, as a Foreign Policy supported Evil, and we will suffer for it, and we already are. A Foreign Policy not based in HiStorical tried & true principles has really come home to visit.

  • PolicyWonk

    Rep. Ron de Santis (R-Fla.), who serves on the Middle East and Africa
    subcommittee, told attendees at a Heritage Foundation forum Wednesday in
    Washington, D.C., that Iran presents a threat “unlike others we have
    faced around the world,” including from the former Soviet Union and even
    today from North Korea—because of Tehran’s “end of times” view of the
    What a dummy. Seriously. How is this any different from the so-called Rapture our idiotic “Christians” love to spew about?

    The United States, is lamentably, still trying to recover from the effects of the so-called “Heritage Foundations” advice to the previous incumbent, which includes them cheering GWB on while he caused the worst string of foreign policy and national security disasters in history.

    The Heritage Foundation are the same bunch that cheered on then-POTUS George W Bush as he spewed out the so-called “axis of evil” speech – and in that short period of time caused one of the worst foreign policy disasters in modern history.

    Iran had just provided the USA (after 9/11) with actionable intelligence on Afghanistan and Iraq; offered use of airfields, ports, and hospitals (plus logistical support) for the Afghan campaign; expressed strong condemnation of the 9/11 attacks on the USA; offered aid (they are very experienced at extricating people out of ruined buildings); and also offered to put all issues of the past on the table with the intent of re-normalizing diplomatic relations.

    The so-called neoconservative cabal running the nation, instead of capitalizing on what could’ve been the diplomatic coup of the new century – instead pulled defeat out of the jaws of victory by all but openly declaring war on Iran while in effect telling them they were next.

    Taking the Heritage Foundations advice on anything of substance is a fools errand. And this statement, is based upon the results of the policy advice they gave, for which the Taliban and Al Qaida owe them a debt of gratitude.

    • Curtis Conway

      So this administration’s precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, that facilitated the creation of ISIS, was not a “…pulled defeat out of the jaws of victory…”?.

      • PolicyWonk


        ISIS was created well before the US left Iraq, and in fact were a known quantity in 2004 (the same folks running ISIS now are the same folks that were disenfranchised by former ambassador L. Paul Bremer: former Bath Party officials and Iraqi Military Officers).

        And, sadly, Obama pulled out based on the schedule for the SOFA that had been negotiated by then-POTUS G W Bush. Obama tried renegotiating the SOFA, but the sticking point was the insistence on US soldiers being given immunity from Iraqi courts (a standard feature of every SOFA), which the Iraqi’s refused to grant.

        That was one of the few times, when both conservatives and liberals agreed that without immunity being granted, it was time to pull our forces out.

        • Curtis Conway

          I’m familiar with all the facts, and the sequence in which they happened (context). That does not change the fact that the ‘blossoming of the ISIS Caliphate’ really took off after the withdrawal, with Iran sitting in the wings cheering all of this on, and here we are today . . . better off because of it? Once American Blood (our most precious commodity) has been shed . . . that should mean something that carries great weight, and to not be so precipitously dismissed by any administration or party. I was not saddened, I was ashamed of our government at that point, and unfortunately, with the negotiations with a terrorist state (Iran), and funding of their activities, at the apparent release of hostages in exchange (regardless of how it is characterized) just turns my stomach. When that terrorist state develops their nuclear weapons, probably with the help of those who hold their material in trust, we will rue the day we ever went down that road. NOT a “Fail Safe Policy” as I was trained, which applies to all things nuclear.

          • PolicyWonk

            Personally, I would’ve preferred that we had forces remaining in Iraq. But we were voted out of the nation by an overwhelming majority of Iraqi voters – the reasons of which were many, as I’m sure you recall. Hence – the Iraqi government wanted us to leave, and that’s what we agreed to do – and did.

            W/r/t Iran, the dumbest thing we could’ve possible done after Iran came to the table (“hat in hand”), after giving us a huge amount of actionable intelligence w/r/t the Taliban, Al Qaida, and Iraq, wanting to put all issues of the past on the table with the goal of re-establishing full diplomatic relations, was replying by adding them to the so-called “axis of evil”.

            Even if we wanted to go after them: why would anyone be so stupid as to warn them beforehand? All they would do is make our lives difficult (and if you were in their shoes – you’d do the same thing) when we went after Saddam. Anyone who thought otherwise probably believes in the Easter Bunny 😛

            But nothing in the agreement prevents us from going to war with them, while it does seemingly prevent them from making things worse. And we weren’t the only nation in the negotiations – by any stretch of the imagination – and the inspection regime for the Iranians are vastly more invasive than that those we had with the USSR (who were a vastly larger threat).

            Given the former incumbents direct threat to Iran, and our less-than-wonderful past with Iran: They have few reasons to trust the USA (and if I were them – I would definitely have my doubts).

            While I am a strong proponent of US interests and our national defense (as I gather you’ve figured out by now), I personally prefer to see us using diplomacy to resolve differences between us and our potential adversaries.

          • Curtis Conway

            W/r/t nuclear capable states I’m with your last comment. Ohterwise I with Baron von Clausewitz. We ask . . . then we do something else . . . politically that is.

  • John B. Morgen

    The nuclear agreement is a very [bad] treaty because after ten years the Iranians could restart their nuclear arms program.

  • Andre

    Here are some things to consider:

    1. Pakistan and the DPRK were able to successfully develop nuclear weapons despite intense interest from foreign intelligence, international blocking attempts (overt and covert) and straitened economic circumstances. There is no reason to assume that continued sanctions would have deterred the Iranian military nuclear program.

    2. The military option would not have necessarily worked. Airstrikes may have temporarily halted activities, but they could have continued dispersed and underground; a full-scale occupation would have been required to secure materials, equipment, research and the scientists themselves. Indeed, Operation Opera, while a tactical success, was a strategic failure. Hussein’s nuclear program trailed off primarily because of the costs of the Iran-Iraq War. The Israeli operation not only drove Hussein’s efforts underground, but funding and personnel were expanded by at least an order of magnitude.

    3. Short of defeat and occupation by US forces, there would be no “perfect deal”. The JCPOA delays possible nuclear weaponization by longer than airstrikes would have and allows for as much transparency as reasonably possible.

    4. If Israel is truly the canary in the coal mine of the Iranian bid for mastery and it has backed off of Iran, that is all the “expert opinion” that is required…