It is difficult to take Bill Nelson seriously. Look at his F voting record here and his 9% scorecard here. Pathetic. Worse than pathetic. Totally not representative of his constituents.
No one in the United States Senate has read the non-transparent Iran Nuclear Agreement and yet here is Mr. Nelson moving his soup coolers like a turtle on valium. Here is the link to his video published August 4, 2015. I posted the transcript below if you can not bear or go slow enough to listen to him.
Mr. NELSON. Mr. President, I rise to announce my decision on the Iranian nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
This decision of mine comes after considerable study of the issue–as have our colleagues in the Senate taken this quite seriously. I have talked with folks on all sides of the issue. These include colleagues as well as constituents. It includes experts on the Middle East and Central Asia, arms control experts, foreign allies, and, as we say in my constituency, it includes just plain folks. I want to say that Secretary Moniz, a nuclear physicist, has been especially helpful.
Needless to say, I wish that the three Americans jailed in Iran and Bob Levinson, a former FBI agent missing in Iran for 8 years, had been a part of an agreement–of this agreement–to return them. The Levinson family in Florida is anxious for information and help to return Bob. This is personal for me.
I am a strong supporter of Israel, and I recognize that country as one of America’s most important allies. I am committed to the protection of Israel as the best and right foreign policy for the United States and our allies.
I am blessed to represent Florida, which also has among our citizens a strong and vibrant Jewish community, including many Holocaust survivors and Holocaust victims’ families, some of whom I have worked with to help them get just compensation from European insurance companies that turned their backs on them after World War II and would not honor their insurance claims.
In our State we are also proud to have a Floridian, a former U.S. and Miami Beach resident, as the Israeli Ambassador to the United States. Ambassador Ron Dermer grew up in Miami Beach. His father and brother are former mayors. He is someone I have enjoyed getting to know and have had several conversations with over the years and recently spent time talking to him about his opposition to this joint agreement.
I acknowledge that this has been one of the most important preparations and will be one of the most important votes that I will cast in the Senate because the foreign and defense policy consequences are both huge for the United States and our allies.
Unless there is an unexpected change in the conditions and facts before the vote is called in September–and it will be called on the very first day that we return in September–unless there is an unexpected change, I will support the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1–which are the United States, the UK, France, Russia, China, and 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 this almost 2-year negotiation–culminated 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 the uranium–by two-thirds. They will 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 10 bombs–will 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. It will lengthen it from 2 to 3 months that they could break out now to more than 1 year. That is more than enough time to detect and, if necessary, stop Iran from racing to a bomb.
Iran’s ability to produce a bomb using plutonium will also be blocked under this deal. The Arak reactor–which as currently constructed could produce enough plutonium for one to [Page: S6265]
two bombs every year–will be redesigned to produce no weapons-grade plutonium. And Iran will have to ship out the spent fuel from the reactor forever.
Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968, in which they agreed they would not pursue nuclear weapons. Iran has reaffirmed this principle in this joint 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 this joint agreement. Our expectation is that in 15 years, when Iran can lift the limit of 300 kilograms 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 those civilian purposes, then harsh economic sanctions will result, and, very possibly, U.S. military action.
The world will be a very different place in 10 to 15 years. If we can buy this much time, instead of Iran developing a nuclear bomb in the near future, then that is reason enough for me to vote to uphold this agreement. If the United States walks away from this multinational agreement, then I believe we would find ourselves alone in the world with little credibility, but there are many more reasons to support this agreement.
The opponents of the agreement say that war is not the only alternative to the agreement. Indeed, they, as articulated by the Israeli Ambassador, say we should oppose the agreement by refusing to lift congressional economic sanctions, and the result will be that the international sanctions will stay in place, that Iran will continue to feel the economic pinch, and therefore Iran will come back to the table and negotiate terms more favorable to the United States and our allies.
If the United States kills the deal that most of the rest of the world is for, there is no question in this Senator’s mind that the sanctions will start to erode, and they may collapse altogether. We just had a meeting with all the P5+1 Ambassadors to the United States, and they reaffirmed that exact fact. Sanctions rely on more than just the power of the U.S. economy, they depend on an underlying political consensus in support of a common objective. China, Russia, and many other nations eager
to do business with Iran went along with our economic sanctions because they believed they were a temporary cost to pay until Iran agreed to a deal to limit their nuclear program. That fragile consensus in support of U.S. policy is likely to fall apart if we jettison this deal.
I think it is unrealistic to think we can stop oil-hungry countries in Asia from buying Iranian oil, especially when offered bargain basement prices. It is equally unrealistic to think we can continue to force foreign banks that hold the Iranian oil dollars–banks in China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan that have sequestered Iranians’ oil dollars–it is unrealistic to expect that they will hold on to that cash simply because we threaten them with U.S. banking sanctions. How will such
threats be taken seriously when these countries, taken together, hold nearly half of America’s debt, making any decision to sanction them extraordinarily difficult. Killing this deal by rejecting it means the sanctions are going to be weaker than they are today, not stronger, and the United States cannot simply get a better deal with Iran,
with less economic leverage and less international support. That is a fact we are having to face. Of course, if we rejected it and if the sanctions crumbled, all of this would probably happen while Iran would be racing to build a bomb. Without this deal, Iran’s breakout time could quickly shrink from months to a handful of weeks or days.
It is reasonable to ask why Iran would agree to negotiate a delay in their nuclear program that they have advanced over the years at the cost of billions of dollars. The simple answer is they need the money. The Iranian economy is hurting because of the sanctions, and Iran’s Supreme Leader needs to satisfy rising expectations of average Iranians, who are restless to have a bigger slice of the economic pie with more and better goods and supplies.
So they have an interest in striking a deal, but does that mean we trust Iran’s Government? No, not at all. The Iranian religious leadership encourages hardliners there 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 cheat; in other words, don’t trust but verify.
I believe the agreement sets out a reasonable assurance that Iran will not be able to hide the development of a bomb at declared or undeclared sites. The International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors will have immediate access to declared sites–the Arak reactor and the enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow.
For the next 20 to 25 years, inspectors will also have regular access to the entire supply chain, including uranium mines and mills, centrifuge production, assembly, and storage sites. That means inspectors will catch Iran if they try to use the facilities we know about to build a weapon or if they try to divert materials to a secret program. To confirm that Iran is not building a covert bomb, this agreement ensures that inspectors will have access to suspicious sites with no more than a 24-day
delay. I know there has been a lot of conversation about that. It is broken off into days. At the end of the day, it must be physical access. Now, would this Senator prefer they get in instantaneously? Of course. Could Iran hide some activities relevant to nuclear weapons research? Possibly. But to actually make a bomb, Iran’s secret activity would have
to enrich the fuel for a device–and they couldn’t cover that up if they had years, let alone do so in a few weeks. Traces of enriched uranium or a secret plutonium program do not suddenly vanish, and they can’t be covered up with a little paint and asphalt. So I am convinced that under the agreement, Iran cannot cheat and expect to get away with it.
On top of the unprecedented IAEA inspections established by this deal is the vast and little understood world of American and allied intelligence. This Senator served on the Intelligence Committee for 6 years and now has clearances on the Armed Services Committee. I can state unequivocally that U.S. intelligence is very good and extensive and will overlay IAEA inspections. Remember, we discovered their secret activities in the past, even without the kinds of inspections put in place by this joint
agreement. So if Iran tries to violate its commitment–its commitment not to build nuclear weapons–and if the IAEA doesn’t find out, I am confident our intelligence apparatus will.
What about the part of the joint agreement that allows the conventional arms embargo to be lifted in 5 years and missile technology to be lifted in 8 years? I understand it was always going to be tough to keep these restrictions in place, and I don’t like that those restrictions are not there. Fortunately, even when the arms embargo expires, five other U.N. resolutions passed since 2004 will continue to be in force to prohibit Iran from exporting arms to terrorists and to militants. These have
had some success, albeit limited, as in the case of the U.S. Navy stopping arms shipments to the Houthis in Yemen. These same U.N. resolutions will stay in place to block future Iranian arms shipments to others. We also have nonnuclear sanctions tools we can–and we must–continue to use to go after those who traffic in Iranian arms and missiles.
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 still be a state sponsor of terrorism. I believe it is in the U.S. interest that Iran is not a nuclear power sponsoring terrorism.
As dangerous a threat that Iran is to Israel and our allies, it would pale in comparison to the threat posed to them and to us by a nuclear-armed Iran.
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 a better deal that the opposition wants? We don’t have that opportunity 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. [Page: S6266]
Under the deal, we keep most of the world with us. That means, if the Iranians cheat, they know 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.
So when I look at all the things for the agreement and against the agreement, it becomes pretty obvious to me to vote in favor of the agreement.
I yield the floor.
He yields much more than the floor. #Disgraceful.