Several failing states in the Middle East are being overrun with terrorist groups, and Iran is influencing these civil wars directly and by proxy -- for example, the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria; Iran also exerts control over the army in Iraq. Many of our allies in the region fear that Iran will dominate the entire Middle East. The United States must continue to enforce sanctions fully until any Iran nuclear weapons option is completely eliminated.
As a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and chair of the Assembly Committee on Science and Technology, I led a team of NATO's 28 member states in researching and writing an in-depth report on Iran's nuclear program. I presented our report
to the full NATO Assembly in October 2012. The report revealed disturbing evidence of Iran having a hidden military nuclear weapons component to its nuclear program.
It also raised such alarming concerns that the NATO Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning
Iran's nuclear program and Iran's noncompliance with the International Atomic Energy Agency inspections. The NATO Assembly resolution was approved
at the same time that the European Union approved new sanctions.
A good deal eliminates every Iranian pathway to a nuclear weapon and allows for "anytime, anywhere" inspections to verify Iranian compliance. A good deal must restrict Iran's nuclear capabilities, including those for research and development, until the country demonstrates to inspectors that it no longer seeks a nuclear weapons capability.
All military facilities must be available for inspection, and Iran must not be permitted to veto specific inspections. Any international mechanism set up for oversight of this process must be able to investigate any new tips quickly. Attempts by Iran to block inspectors or conceal information must be dealt with swiftly. And Iran must accept that Israel has a right to exist.
What would be a bad deal?
One that would (1) leave Iran as a nuclear threshold state, which would enable it to keep moving quickly toward a nuclear weapon; (2) spur a nuclear proliferation race among the Middle Eastern countries; (3) embolden Iran to expand influence aggressively in the region; (4) permit a fully nuclear Iran to have even greater impact on the futures of Syria, Iraq and other failing states; and (5) leave the United States, NATO and Israel seriously to consider two bad choices: taking military action against Iran or allowing Iran to get a nuclear weapon.
Any nuclear agreement with Iran cannot be based on trust alone. Remember
, Iran lied and hid its nuclear program from the international community for decades and still refuses to answer questions about its weaponization activity. Rather, an acceptable agreement must be based on provable, concrete actions that can be strictly verified by the United States and international community.
The alternative? Should Iran fail to make the necessary concessions, then we must step up economic sanctions and political pressure on Iran. Sanctions brought Iran to the table, and sanctions can drive Iran to a good agreement.
Should a final nuclear agreement with Iran become a reality, the United States and the international community must proceed cautiously. Sanctions must be lifted gradually and only as Iran complies. The main leverage is the threat that sanctions will not be lifted and that military strikes remain on the table.
But a warning: Sanctions relief will provide Iran with significant financial resources with which it could increase its support of terrorism. As we know, Iran is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism
. Iran could secretly continue to acquire a nuclear weapon. In the first year of sanction relief, Iran will benefit from more than $150 billion in assets currently held abroad and in new oil revenue.
The world cannot allow Iran to become a nuclear weapons-capable nation, let alone a nuclear armed one. I can only support an agreement that stops Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Sir Edmund Burke is said to have warned: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Well, we have good people and we are determined to get a good deal. The future of the world is dependent on us.