Liz and David Cohen, Princeton
Urge Sen. Booker to
support Iran nuclear deal
To the editor:
We are at a crucial crossroads with the Iran nuclear agreement; we hope that Sen. Cory Booker will part ways from Sen. Menendez and vote to support it.
Sen. Booker has been thinking a lot and consulting widely about whether he should vote against the agreement President Obama announced last month — and the eyes of the nation are increasingly on him.
We respect the senator’s thorough process and take him at his word that he is hearing all sides of this complex issue. We also hope that in addition to analyzing the pros and cons of an agreement that is admittedly not perfect, he also examines the consequences of a vote by Congress to sabotage it.
Over 100 leading figures from the non-proliferation, diplomatic and military communities have come to the consensus that the deal will prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. They include many of President Obama’s fellow Democrats, to be sure, but also Ryan Crocker, our former ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan — a two-time George W. Bush nominee.
The nuclear agreement restricts Iran’s capacity to enrich and stockpile uranium, to separate and reprocess plutonium, and to maintain or develop new infrastructure to do so — blocking all Iran’s paths to the bomb.
On that basis alone, most Americans support the deal — and Jewish Americans like us by an even larger margin.
As the strengths of the agreement have come into clearer relief, Sen. Booker has wisely asked, “what’s the new status quo if we walk away?”
The answer? A much worse outcome.
Rejecting the deal will dramatically weaken our negotiating position, break up the coalition of nations we’ve spent years bringing together to enact it, prove that our government can’t even abide by its own agreements, and leave Tehran, once again, on the brink of developing a nuclear bomb.
If Congress does sink the deal, we know what the new status quo would be — because we’ve already lived with it.
For years, before the start of these negotiations and the implementation of an interim agreement that increased monitoring of Iran’s nuclear sites, we faced the ever-present threat of an Iran mere steps away from the bomb.
For the U.S., this new status quo would mean going back to the drawing board — without the support of many of our allies — and figuring out another way to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
For our allies in the Middle East, like Israel and the Gulf states, this new status quo would be even more dangerous: an Iranian regime weeks away from a nuclear weapon, and a very likely scenario for war.
Contrary to many of the partisan talking points, the deal’s verification provisions are stronger than those of any non-proliferation agreement in history. For all declared nuclear sites under the agreement, inspectors will have anytime access to monitor nuclear activity.
Most importantly, the deal preserves our ultimate options for reinstating sanctions or pursuing military intervention. Whether or not Iran complies with the terms of the deal, be it next year or when its main provisions expire in 2030, we retain the right — and the might — to hold Iran accountable for any violations.
Whatever its weaknesses, the deal guarantees that Iran will remain free of nuclear weapons until 2030. Even if the Iranians were then to decide to make a mad dash for the bomb, they’d be farther away from the goal line than they are today, and we would likely have far more sophisticated means of stopping their drive.
As Sen. Booker must recognize, that’s far better than an Iran on the doorstep of a nuclear weapon.
In the final analysis, that should be the deciding argument that persuades Sen. Booker to vote for the deal. We urge all readers to contact his office and ask him to vote yes.
Liz and David Cohen
Liz and David Cohen, Princeton