Washington (August 19, 2015) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement today in support of the Iran nuclear agreement. Senator Markey co-founded the Congressional Bipartisan Task Force on Nonproliferation, championed the movement in the 1980’s to freeze nuclear warhead buildup, and has led multiple legislative fights to halt the nuclear arms race.
“Prevention of nuclear war is one of the most important issues facing the world today. That’s why I have dedicated my career to halting the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The danger of a nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran is very real and a serious threat to not only the security of Israel and the entire Middle East, but to all of humanity.
“I also believe that the United States must always guarantee Israel’s right to exist. I have always been a strong supporter of Israel. When Saddam Hussein was developing nuclear weapons in 1981, I supported Israel’s decision to bomb the Osirak reactor because the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of that era was ineffective. When Israel needed more funding for a missile defense system, I voted to provide support to accelerate the deployment of the Iron Dome System in 2010. When Hamas attacked Israel in 2012, I supported Israel’s right to defend itself.
“Over the last month and a half, I have carefully reviewed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I have participated in numerous hearings, classified briefings and meetings with administration officials, senior intelligence officers, former government officials and private sector experts both supportive of and opposed to the agreement. I participated with my Senate colleagues in discussions with the ambassadors of the five countries that joined in the effort to reach this agreement and with the Director-General of the IAEA. I have consulted with many stakeholder groups, advocates and concerned constituents in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. on both sides of this debate to hear their views and better understand their positions. The groups and individuals with whom I’ve met have all made strong, informed and powerful arguments. Without exception, their passion is born of an unwavering desire to secure a lasting peace for the Middle East, Israel and the United States. I commend them for their commitment to this cause.
“Iran has given us good reason to be skeptical of its intentions. It is a state sponsor of terrorism, a destabilizing force in the Middle East, and with nuclear weapons capabilities Iran would present an existential threat to Israel. Iran has misled us in the past when it comes to their nuclear program. That’s why verification is key to this agreement. I have paid particular attention to the question of whether international inspectors will have real power to detect, investigate, and respond to any suspicious nuclear activity before Iran has time to cover up the evidence. If this agreement is implemented, we must ensure that the IAEA has all the resources it needs to aggressively investigate any indication of Iranian nuclear weapons activities, and report promptly and unequivocally if Iran cheats.
“We must never allow Iran to become a nuclear weapons state. After a thorough review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, I have concluded that diplomacy remains our best tool to secure a nuclear weapon-free Iran. That’s why I intend to support the Iran nuclear agreement when it comes before Congress in September. This agreement is far from perfect and carries risks. But I believe our negotiators achieved as much as they reasonably could, and that if strictly implemented, this plan can be effective. As recently stated in an letter signed by 29 leading American nuclear scientists, including six Nobel laureates, this agreement contains ‘more stringent constraints than any previous negotiated nonproliferation framework.’
“The agreement reduces Iran’s existing nuclear program to a fraction of its current size, puts strict limits on its civil nuclear program for fifteen years, and empowers international inspectors to use the most advanced and intrusive methods to monitor Iran’s compliance. After fifteen years, Iran may only develop a nuclear program for peaceful purposes and will remain subject to continuing verification by the IAEA, the world’s nuclear cop on the beat.
“I supported the tough sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place, and there are mechanisms in this agreement to ‘snap-back’ sanctions quickly that cannot be vetoed by China or Russia. But if Iran does not fully comply with the conditions of this deal, then all military options remain on the table to prevent Iran from ever getting a nuclear weapon. This agreement offers the leaders of Iran an opportunity to provide a more prosperous future for their people and become a responsible partner in a safer and more peaceful Middle East.
“In the coming years, it is essential to increase our commitment of support to Israel to unprecedented levels. Israel is our closest regional ally, and we must ensure its defense against very real threats of violence from Iran and its proxies. Likewise, we must strengthen all of our security partnerships and seek new diplomatic opportunities for peace in the region.
“I thank Secretary Kerry, Secretary Moniz and the entire U.S. negotiating team for their tireless efforts and service to our country in helping reach this agreement. I also thank President Obama for his leadership and commitment to diplomacy. As we fully implement this agreement, we must be ever vigilant to ensure that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon.”