Wyoming’s Congressional delegation supports President Donald Trump’s decision Tuesday to withdraw the United States from the nuclear accord with Iran, though none presented a clear alternative to the agreement.
Congressman Liz Cheney and Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi all said in statements that the deal, which was reached under President Barack Obama in 2015, did not go far enough to stop Iran’s ambition to build nuclear weapons or to cut down on other activity that the trio views as counter to American interests overseas.
“The deal was one of the most dangerous agreements the United States has ever entered into,” Cheney said.
Barrasso came the closest to outlining what he wanted to see in a new agreement with Iran, saying that he supported the White House’s conditions for any future accord. Namely, the deal would need to bar Iranian nuclear activity indefinitely, allow inspections of military sites in the country, end ballistic missile development and force Iran to cease supporting militants in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere, according to spokeswoman Laura Mengelkamp.
“The United States remains committed to denying Iran all paths to a nuclear weapon and ending Iran’s terrorist activities,” Barrasso said in an email. “(Tuesday’s) announcement paves the way for the United States to negotiate a new, stronger and more effective nuclear agreement with Iran.”
Cheney did not directly address what kind of agreement would allow her to support the end of sanctions against Iran, though pointed to several areas in the current accord that she considered inadequate. In a statement, Cheney cited the lack of “anywhere/anytime” nuclear inspections and Iran’s ability to continue enriching uranium, though only to a lower grade than needed for nuclear weapons.
Enzi, who is less active on foreign policy than his two delegation counterparts, likewise backed Trump’s decision without clearly stating what goal he would like the United States to achieve.
President Donald Trump says he is pulling out of the landmark nuclear accord with Iran, calling the agreement 'defective at its core.' His announcement dealt a profound blow to U.S. allies and potentially deepened the president's isolation on the world stage. Speaking at the White House, Trump said the United States "will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction."
“I believe that continued sanctions at this time are the best way forward to address the full range of threats from Iran and any future relief should put a more permanent end to Iran’s nuclear ambitions,” Enzi said in an email.
He cited Iran’s “aggressive behavior” in the Middle East as evidence that the deal was not working.
Supporters of the agreement, which countries including Germany, France and Britain plan to remain in, say it places strict limits on Iran’s nuclear facilities that make it unable to produce a bomb during the lifetime of the deal. U.N. inspectors have repeatedly confirmed that Iran is abiding by the accord’s terms.
Critics of the deal object to a sunset provision that would allow Iran to resume enriching uranium at high levels in 15 years, unless an extension or longer-term deal is negotiated. Europe could join the U.S. in re-imposing sanctions in retaliation if Iran does so.
Opponents also point to issues that are not addressed in the deal, such as Iran’s ballistic missile program, its support for militias in the region and its expanding influence. The deal’s architects say those issues can be negotiated separately and should not be allowed to wreck an accord that halted progress toward a bomb.
The deal’s unravelling could backfire and spark even more unrest in the Middle East, experts say. Also, if Iran follows with an all-out revival of its nuclear program, Saudi Arabia has threatened to respond by launching a nuclear weapons program of its own.
Yoel Guzansky, a senior researcher at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, believes the current deal has “many, many problems,” but says there are consequences to walking away from it, including the possibility of escalating violence and instability in the region.
“Not just in Syria but also in the Gulf and elsewhere. It could mean a more volatile Middle East, absolutely,” he said.