Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson supports of the Iran Deal


U.S. Senator Bill Nelson

On Aug. 4, Sen. Bill Nelson (Dem., Fla.) announced his decision on the Iranian nuclear agreement. The following are excerpt from his speech.

"Unless there is an unexpected change in conditions and facts before the vote is called in September, I will support the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 (U.S., France, U.K., Russia, China, Germany) because I am convinced it will stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon for at least the next 10 to 15 years. No other available alternative accomplishes this vital objective.

"The goal of the two-years of negotiations culminating in this deal was to deny Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This objective has been fulfilled in the short term. For the next 10 years, Iran will reduce its centrifuges-the machines that enrich uranium-by two-thirds. They'll go from more than 19,000 centrifuges to 6,000. Only 5,000 of those will be operating, all at Natanz, all the most basic models. The deeply buried Fordow facility will be converted to a research lab-no enrichment can occur there and no fissile material can be stored there. For the next 15 years, Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium-which currently amounts to 12,000 kilograms, enough for ten bombs-will also be reduced by 98 percent, to only 300 kilograms. Research and development into advanced centrifuges will also be limited. Taken together, these constraints will lengthen the time it would take for Iran to produce the highly-enriched uranium for one bomb-the so-called "breakout time"-from 2-3 months to more than a year. That is more than enough time to detect and, if necessary, stop Iran from racing to a bomb..."

Iran signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 in which they agreed they would not pursue nuclear weapons. Iran has reaffirmed this principle in the JCPOA agreement. Iran also says they want to eventually make low-grade nuclear fuel, as other NPT compliant nations do, in order to produce electricity. If they comply, they will eventually be allowed to do so under the JCPOA.

Our expectation is that in 15 years, when Iran can lift the limit of 300kg of low-enriched uranium, if they have not cheated, they will continue to abide by their NPT obligations and use their fuel only for electricity and medical isotopes. If they deviate from these civilian purposes, then harsh economic sanctions will result and, very possibly military action. 

"The world will be a very different place in 10 - 15 years. If we can buy this much time instead of Iran developing a nuclear bomb, then that is reason enough for me to vote to uphold the agreement."

Iran has an interest in striking a deal, Nelson affirms. "But does that mean we trust Iran's government? No, not at all. The Iranian religions leadership encourages hardliners to chant "death to America" and "death to Israel." Therefore this agreement can't be built on trust-we must have a good enough mechanism in place to catch them when and if they try to cheat.

In other words: 'Don't trust, but verify.' 

"Will this agreement allow Iran to continue to be a state sponsor of terrorism? Yes, but they now have the capability to develop a nuclear weapon within months. And I believe it is in the U.S. interest that Iran is not a nuclear power sponsoring terrorism. 

"Would I prefer a deal that dismantles their entire program forever and ends all of Iran's bad behavior? Of course I would. But how do we get the 'better deal' that the opposition wants? We don't if the sanctions fall apart. And that is exactly what would happen if we reject this deal. Iran will emerge less isolated and less constrained to build a nuclear weapon.

Under the deal, we keep most of the world with us. That means, if the Iranians cheat they know that we can snap back the economic sanctions and cut off their oil money.

"This joint agreement declares that Iran will never ever be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon. If they break their agreement, even in 10 or 15 years, every financial and military option will still be available to us and those options will be backed by ever improving military capabilities and more and better intelligence."


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