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Timothy K.
Democrat VA

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  • Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015—Motion to Proceed

    by Senator Tim Kaine

    Posted on 2015-08-04

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    KAINE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for up to 10 minutes, recognizing that it is after 12:30 p.m.



    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Nuclear Agreement With Iran Mr. KAINE. Mr. President, in November 2013, the United States and five global powers, the P5+1, announced an interim deal to freeze Iran's nuclear program and negotiate a diplomatic resolution to one of the most challenging issues affecting global security.

    Since then, as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee, I participated in scores of hearings, classified briefings, meetings, and calls about this topic in Virginia, Washington, and during five trips to the Middle East, including two trips to Israel.

    I have listened to the administration, to allies in the Middle East and elsewhere, to current and former Senate colleagues--especially former Armed Services Chairmen John Warner and Carl Levin--to national security and foreign policy experts, to critics and proponents of the deal, to American military leaders and troops, and also to my constituents. I helped write the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, under which Congress is currently engaging in a 60-day review period to approve or disapprove of the suspension of congressional sanctions as part of the final deal announced July 15.

    Based on my review of this complex matter, I acknowledge that every option before us involves risk with upside and downside consequences.

    I understand how people of good will can reach different conclusions, but I also conclude that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is a dramatic improvement over the status quo at improving global security for the next 15 years and, likely, longer.

    In this deal, America has honored its best traditions and shown that patient [[Page S6263]] diplomacy can achieve what isolation and hostility cannot.

    For this reason, I will support the deal.

    Prior to the interim negotiation in November of 2013, and even in the face of a punishing international sanctions regime, Iran's nuclear program was marching ahead. Iran had amassed more than 19,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium, and that number was growing. Iran had produced more than 11,000 kilograms of enriched uranium, and that stockpile was growing. Iran had perfected the ability to enrich uranium to the 20-percent level, and that enrichment level was growing. Iran was constructing a heavy-water facility at Arak capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium, and Iran only allowed limited IAEA access to its declared nuclear facilities, shielding its operation and inspection of covert nuclear sites.

    The program, when diplomacy began, was months away from being able to produce enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the United Nations in 2012: For over seven years, the international community has tried sanctions with Iran. Under the leadership of President Obama, the international community has passed some of the strongest sanctions to date. . . . It's had an effect on the economy, but we must face the truth. Sanctions have not stopped Iran's nuclear program.

    We must face the truth. A punishing sanctions regime did not stop Iran's nuclear program. The nuclear program will only stop by a diplomatic agreement or by military action. While military action has to be an option, it is in America's interest--and in the interest of the entire world--to use every effort to find a diplomatic resolution. In fact, that was the purpose of the Iranian sanctions to begin with-- to open a path to a diplomatic solution.

    We now have a diplomatic solution on the table. The JCPOA is not perfect because all parties made concessions, as is the case in any serious diplomatic negotiation. But it has gained broad international support because it prevents Iran from getting sufficient uranium for a bomb for at least 15 years. It also stops any pathway to a plutonium weapon for that period, and it exposes Iranian covert activity to enhanced scrutiny by the international community forever.

    Under the deal, Iran does the following: It affirms that ``under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons,'' it reduces its quantity of centrifuges by more than two- thirds, and it slashes its uranium stockpile by 97 percent to 300 kilograms for 15 years. This is dramatically less than what Iran would need to produce even a single weapon. It caps the enrichment level of the remaining uranium stockpile at 3.67 percent. It reconfigures the Iraq reactor so that it can no longer produce weapons-grade plutonium. It commits to a series of limitations on R&D activities to guarantee that any nuclear program will be ``for exclusively peaceful purposes'' in full compliance with international nonproliferation rules. Finally, Iran agrees to a robust set of international inspections of its declared nuclear facilities, its entire uranium supply chain, and its suspected covert facilities by a team of more than 130 international inspectors.

    After year 15, the unique caps and requirements imposed on Iran are progressively lifted through year 2025. After year 25, Iran is permanently obligated to abide by all international nonproliferation treaty requirements, including the extensive inspections required by the NPT Additional Protocol, and its agreement that it will never ``seek, develop, or acquire any nuclear weapons'' continues forever.

    If Iran breaks this agreement, nuclear sanctions may be reimposed. The United States reserves the right to sanction Iran for activities unrelated to its nuclear program, including support for terrorism, arms shipments, and human rights violations.

    Finally, and importantly, the United States and our partners maintain the ability to use military action if Iran seeks to obtain a nuclear weapon in violation of this deal. The knowledge of the Iranian program gained through extensive inspections will improve the effectiveness of any military action, and the clarity of Iran's commitment to the world--in the first paragraph of the agreement--that it will never pursue nuclear weapons will make it easier to gain international support for military action should Iran violate their unequivocal pledge.

    This deal does not solve all outstanding issues with an adversarial regime. In that sense, it is similar to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty President Kennedy negotiated with the Soviet Union in the midst of the Cold War. Iran's support for terrorism remains a major concern, and we must increase efforts with our regional allies to counter those malign activities. But at the end of the day, this agreement is not about making an ally out of an adversary, it is about denying an adversary a path to obtaining nuclear weapons.

    This deal takes a nuclear weapons program that was on the verge of success and disables it for many years through peaceful diplomatic means with sufficient tools for the international community to verify whether Iran is meeting its commitments. I hope this resolution might open the door to diplomatic discussion of other tough issues with Iran.

    In conclusion, monitoring this agreement and countering Iran's nonnuclear activity will require great diligence by the United States, our allies, and the IAEA, and there will be an important role for Congress in this ongoing work. I look forward to working with my colleagues on measures to guarantee close supervision and enforcement of this deal. That work will be arduous, but it is far preferable to allowing Iran to return to a march toward nuclear weapons. It is also far preferable to any other alternative, including war.

    Mr. President, I yield the floor.

    ____________________

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