On July 14, 2015, Ben Carson criticized the terms of the newly announced Iran nuclear deal. Carson said, “Without anywhere anytime surprise inspections, a full accounting of Iran’s past secret nuclear arms pursuits, elimination of Iran’s uranium stockpiles and the lifting of any sanctions only upon verification of Iranian compliance, this is not a good deal, but a recipe for disaster and the first fateful step toward a frenzied nuclear arms race in the Middle East.”
On April 2, 2015, Carson posted the following statement on the Iran nuclear deal to his Facebook page: “After months of what President Obama deems ‘tough, principled diplomacy’, the United States has still solely achieved a ‘framework for a deal’ whose key details will be finalized over the next three months. Over the past few months of negotiations, it is the Iranian side which has achieved the most after all of the talks. Only a framework for a future potential deal has been achieved, while the Iranians have simultaneously increased their capability to enrich uranium. When negotiations resume, Iran will then insist on restarting the negotiations at a beginning stage with limited progress, if any. While Iran’s installed centrifuges will be reduced from 19,000 to 6,000, it is unclear why certain provisions differ in terms of an expiration date, ranging from 10 years, 15 years, 25 years and ‘indefinitely’. It is already clear that both sides differ in their interpretation of the ‘framework for a deal’. Zarif has already stated that Fordow is not included in the framework. This is crucial, as Fordow maintains the best centrifuges. Sunset provisions on restrictions are misleading and are not indicative of a ‘good deal’, as coined by our leader. Let us hope that both Houses of Congress play a key role in the coming months regarding finalized decisions at the negotiating table. Reaching a deal that involves unfettered inspections, transparent communication, and safeguards the United States, Israel and the rest of our allies is absolutely critical. The main conclusion from these recent months of negotiations is that the Iranians are superior negotiators.”
Ted Cruz introduced a resolution on July 30, 2015, to delay the 60-day review period of the Iran nuclear deal until the Obama administration released all materials related to the agreement, including “side deals” between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
On July 21, 2015, Cruz discussed his thoughts on the possible repercussions of the Iran deal. Cruz said, “If Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, one of the most dangerous things it could do with it is load that weapon onto a ship anywhere in the Atlantic, fire the warhead straight into the air, into the atmosphere. If you get high enough and detonate that warhead, it would set off an electromagnetic pulse, what is called an EMP. That EMP could shut down the entire electrical grid on the Eastern seaboard, could take down our stock market, our financial systems, but even more importantly could take down food delivery, water delivery, heat, air conditioning, transportation. The projections are that one nuclear warhead in the atmosphere over the Eastern seaboard could result in tens of millions of Americans dying.”
On July 14, 2015, Cruz called the final Iran deal “staggeringly bad.” He also said, “It is a fundamental betrayal of the security of the United States and of our closest allies, first and foremost Israel.”
On April 17, 2015, Cruz sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry arguing that because “discrepancies on key elements of the (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) framework have come to light,” the P5+1 and Iran should “make public a joint framework agreement outlining the parameters that have been agreed upon, and those that will be addressed in the event negotiations continue in both classified and unclassified form.” To read Cruz’s letter click here.
On April 3, 2015, Cruz released the following statement on the Iran nuclear deal: “President Obama’s agreement with Iran, the details of which he has largely kept secret, is as he said ‘historic’ because of the catastrophic risk it poses to the security of the United States and our allies. The so-called deal, unilaterally arranged without any consultation with Congress, lifts sanctions and effectively puts Iran on the path to the bomb after a 10-year horizon. The likelihood of Iran using those weapons against Israel, which its leaders call ‘little Satan’ and have explicitly said they would like to ‘erase off the map’ and America, which it calls ‘the Great Satan,’ is unacceptably high. Under no circumstance should a U.S. President lift sanctions and grant nuclear capability to a nation that proudly chants ‘Death to America.’ …This is a very bad deal and it is a grim day for America. President Obama is right to be concerned that it will likely face considerable opposition from the American people and their representatives in Congress. Because absent Congress’ consent, it will not be binding when President Obama leaves office.”
After an Iran nuclear deal was reached on July 14, 2015, Carly Fiorina criticized the method and final product of the negotiations. Fiorina said, “It would be different if Iran was a good actor and had negotiated in good faith all this time but they haven’t and we’ve caved many times. I’ve never negotiated an Iran nuclear deal, but I’ve negotiated a lot of high-stakes deals, and there are a couple of rules and every rule has been broken. If you want a good deal, you’ve got to walk away sometimes. We never did.” She also expressed her skepticism that Iran would comply with inspections.
In an April 2, 2015, op-ed, Fiorina wrote the following about the Iran nuclear deal: “The deal that the United States has negotiated with Iran poses a grave threat to American security at home and abroad. U.S. officials know that Iran has had a long-term plan to gain a nuclear weapon and destabilize the region through its support of terrorist organizations. And it is known that President Rouhani has never agreed to full and unfettered United Nations inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities. The Iranian government has repeatedly, flagrantly violated sanctions put in place by the United Nations. We know that they have flat-out lied about every nuclear facility they have built over the last three decades. This is not the behavior of a potential ally or of a partner. These are the actions of a country trying to bluff its way into persuading the United Nations, the United States, and its allies to allow it the freedom to develop a nuclear weapon for military purposes. Because of these facts, we cannot trust anything they sign. Until Iran is prepared to (and opens its nuclear facilities to) full and unfettered UN-sanctioned inspections and demonstrates that they are willing to halt uranium enrichment, we cannot place any trust in any deal that is made. …This is not an agreement which will make Americans proud. It is not a deal that demonstrates our strength and resolve at home and abroad. Our allies will not point to this as a signal of our continued support.”
During a speech at the New America Foundation’s April 24, 2015, conference John Kasich expressed his concern with the Iran nuclear deal. He said, “This is serious business about mankind. This is not some political discussion. And I want to have a deal that I’m going to trust. This is about my 15-year-old daughters and their survival. We have to be careful here what we do.”
On July 21, 2015, Rand Paul said he supported the use of military force against Iran if it were to violate the nuclear deal by building nuclear weapons. Paul explained, “I think military force always has to back up diplomacy. Diplomacy doesn’t work without military force behind it, and I think making that decision is a difficult decision, but ultimately yes you have to have military force that backs up the diplomatic negotiations that you have. We have to say that there has to be force as a backdrop to this.” When acting as a surrogate for his father, Ron Paul, in 2008, Rand Paul expressed incredulity at the idea that Iran posed a threat to American national security.
On July 14, 2015, Paul spoke out against the final Iran nuclear deal, citing the following concerns: “1) sanctions relief precedes evidence of compliance, 2) Iran is left with significant nuclear capacity, 3) it lifts the ban on selling advanced weapons to Iran.” Paul then said, “While I continue to believe that negotiations are preferable to war, I would prefer to keep the interim agreement in place instead of accepting a bad deal.”
On March 3, 2015, Paul, a co-sponsor of S 615 – Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, said, “I believe it is in everyone’s best interest to find a peaceful way to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Contingent fully upon the approval from Congress, any deal reached must be strong, verifiable, and ultimately, have real consequences if Iran does not comply. This act will give the administration an incentive to negotiate from a position of strength.” On March 9, 2015, Paul signed an open letter to Iran with 46 other Republican senators regarding the separation of powers and the future legitimacy of any agreement between Iran and President Barack Obama. The letter explained, “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of an agreement at any time.”
Marco Rubio issued a joint letter with Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on August 19, 2015, calling for Secretary of State John Kerry to make public letters he sent to the French, British, German and Chinese governments about the snapback provisions of the Iran nuclear deal. “These letters appear to reassure these foreign governments that their companies may not be impacted if sanctions are re-imposed in response to Iranian violations of the agreement. While Administration officials have claimed that this is not the case, we think it is important for the American public to be able to read your assurances to foreign governments for themselves as their elected representatives review this deal in the coming weeks,” the senators wrote.
On July 24, 2015, Rubio insisted the next president does not have to honor the Iran nuclear deal even if Congress approves it. “This is a deal with the Obama administration. It is not a treaty. It is not binding on the next president. And I anticipate that the next president of the United States may very well – and if it’s me, I will – reimpose the American sanctions that are in the law right now,” Rubio said.
On July 21, 2015, Rubio released a statement criticizing President Obama for not prioritizing the release of international journalist Jason Rezaian and other detainees in Iran during negotiations with the country. Rubio said, “It is unacceptable that the Obama Administration missed an opportunity to make the freedom of Jason, as well as Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini, and obtaining information about missing Floridian Robert Levinson, a priority in its negotiations with Iran. Jason should not be behind bars for his profession as a journalist, and he should be released unconditionally.”
On July 15, 2015, Rubio remarked on Obama and the final Iran deal, calling it “an exhibit in his presidential library.” He continued, “Look at the press coverage of this issue: Some of it’s been glowing as some sort of historic deal — it’s ridiculous. A third-rate autocracy has now been given equality with a world power, with the United States of America. They are now a nuclear threshold country on a deal signed with the United States and other global powers. That’s why they’re cheering in the streets [of] Tehran; that’s why they’re celebrating. You don’t see any celebrations in America. You don’t see any celebrations in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, because they know this is a one-sided deal.”
On April 2, 2015, Rubio released the following statement on the Iran nuclear deal: “I look forward to hearing from administration officials what specific terms Iran has agreed to as part of what was supposed to be a comprehensive framework agreement, but the initial details appear to be very troubling. Through more than a decade of efforts to resolve international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, this regime has consistently lied about its ambitions and hidden the true nature of its efforts from the world. Among other issues, allowing Iran to retain thousands of centrifuges, keeping facilities such as Fordow open and not limiting Iran’s ballistic missile program indicate to me that this deal is a colossal mistake. This attempt to spin diplomatic failure as a success is just the latest example of this administration’s farcical approach to Iran. Under this President’s watch, Iran has expanded its influence in the Middle East, sowing instability throughout the region. Iran’s support for terrorism has continued unabated without a serious response from the United States. The regime’s repression of the Iranian people and its detentions of American citizens continue. And now Tehran is gaining international acceptance of its nuclear ambitions and will receive significant sanctions relief without making serious concessions. I intend to work with my colleagues to continue to ensure that any final agreement, if reached, is reviewed by Congress and that additional sanctions continue to be imposed on Iran until it completely gives up its nuclear ambitions and the regime changes its destructive behavior. Our message to Iran should be clear: until the regime chooses a different path, the United States will continue to isolate Iran and impose pressure. Today’s announcement takes us in the opposite direction, and I fear it will have devastating consequences for nuclear non-proliferation, the security of our allies and partners, and for U.S. interests in the region.”
During Donald Trump’s speech announcing his candidacy for president on June 16, 2015, he suggested a deal with Iran regarding nuclear weapons could destroy Israel.
In March 2015, when asked on FOX’s “The O’Reilly Factor” why he thought negotiations with Iran were failing, Trump said the deal was taking too long to complete. Pointing to the Bowe Bergdahl exchange, Trump stated the Iranians were “great negotiatiors” and the Obama administration contained “terrible negotiators.” He added sanctions should have been doubled or tripled prior to negotiation, and that Secretary of State John Kerry might have to walk away from the negotiating table.
In his 2011 book, Time to Get Tough, Trump stated, “America’s primary goal with Iran must be to destroy its nuclear ambitions. Let me put them as plainly as I know how: Iran’s nuclear program must be stopped–by any and all means necessary. Period. We cannot allow this radical regime to acquire a nuclear weapon that they will either use or hand off to terrorists.”
On July 13, 2015, the day before the Iran deal was signed, Walker indicated that, if elected, he would terminate the deal immediately and reimpose economic sanctions, saying, “We need to terminate the bad deal with Iran on day one, put in place crippling economic sanctions and convince our allies to do the same.”
Scott Walker published an op-ed in the National Review on June 30, 2015, criticizing the Obama administration for its handling of negotiations with Iran. Walker wrote, “President Obama’s pattern of retreat has sent such a resounding message of weakness that the Iranians, even if they do sign an agreement, will inevitably test American resolve again and again. The administration tells us not to worry, because its ‘unprecedented’ inspections will discover any cheating by Iran. But effective inspections can’t take place without Iranian cooperation, which Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, has rejected. And responding to any violations will also require Russia and China’s goodwill, which is in short supply.”
Walker concluded that America should make greater use of economic sanctions and military power. He explained, “[W]e should send a message loud and clear that America demands a deal in which Iran dismantles its illicit nuclear infrastructure and agrees to full transparency and verification. We should remind the world that Iran is in active violation of numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions. We should redouble efforts to impose crippling economic sanctions on Iran without apology and rollback Iran’s regional influence. We should focus international attention on Iran’s abysmal human-rights record and its support for terrorism abroad. And we should stand with our key allies and partners in the region, especially Israel.”
On April 25, 2015, Scott Walker said, “We need to tell the president to back off from a bad deal” with Iran.