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Trent F.
Republican AZ 8

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  • The Threat of a Nuclear Iran

    by Representative Trent Franks

    Posted on 2013-02-15

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    FRANKS of Arizona. Mr. Speaker, my comments today are heavily contributed to by the author of ``The Nature of War,'' Ron Tira; and I want to acknowledge him. He's a noted military expert and noted national security expert, and I appreciate so very much his seminal contribution to these comments.

    Mr. Speaker, a nuclear Iran poses a severe and unfamiliar risk to the United States and its allies. We have to be very careful not to mistakenly assume that a relatively stable balance of deterrence, similar to the nuclear equilibrium between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, can be achieved with Iran. A nuclear Iran represents a very different type of threat that simply cannot be managed.

    A nuclear Iran would serve to incentivize the development of nuclear weapons by many other regional powers in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey.

    Mr. Speaker, a multi-polar nuclear crisis is much harder to manage than anything we've experienced or did experience during the Cold War. If we could all just imagine for a moment the so-called ``chicken game.'' But instead of two drivers, imagine five drivers, Mr. Speaker, each speeding from different directions to converge on the same intersection.

    All of this, in addition to the other characteristics of the Middle East, such as unstable regimes and the danger of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of al Qaeda or other terrorist groups.

    Consider Qadhafi's Libya, Mr. Speaker, with several nuclear warheads. Who knows where they might be now? And where would the world be today if Syria's Assad had managed to complete his nuclear bombmaking efforts? Therefore, Mr. Speaker, the only viable U.S. policy is one of preventing [[Page H572]] Iran from going nuclear, not this delusional notion of containing a nuclear Iran. Indeed, prevention is the stated policy objective of this President and his top advisers.

    However, the problem is not with the stated policy, but with the strategy that is supposed to achieve it. And, Mr. Speaker, the facts on the ground reveal that our policy objectives are not turning into reality.

    Nearly all previous red lines demarcated by America and its allies over Iran's nuclear ambition have now been crossed, with very few repercussions to show for Iran's defiance. Iran is now enriching uranium in quantities, enrichment levels and facilities that would have terrified the entire free world only a few years ago.

    Indeed, at this very moment, a defiant Iran is forging ahead with the development of ballistic missiles, detonators and other components essential to nuclear weaponization.

    Mr. Speaker, why do we find it so challenging to realize our policy objectives? Why is the world's sole superpower unable to impose its will on a country whose GDP is comparable with that of Argentina and many of those whose significant military assets date back as far as arms deals with the Johnson and Nixon administrations? Mr. Speaker, one of the key enabling factors for Iran's nuclear weapons development is the perception of a lack of symmetry between Iranian and American seriousness and determination regarding the nuclear program. But for Iran, it is of the utmost importance, and the regime is willing to take risks and to pay high prices to achieve its objectives, or at least this is certainly how it postures.

    Mr. Speaker, Iran is successfully deterring its adversaries and positioning itself as ready to face a confrontation, even if its deep- rooted weaknesses make it unlikely that it could ever withstand such a direct conflict.

    Mr. Speaker, it's time for us to be candid in questioning the strategic effectiveness of covert and clandestine operations, as important as they are. While the courage and resourcefulness of our intelligence community is unquestionable, and while covert and clandestine operations may inflict some damage on Iran's nuclear program, they cannot and have not been effective in convincing Iran to abandon its nuclearization policy.

    More significantly, covert and clandestine activities create an illusion of ``something being done,'' thus appearing to justify the fact that we continue to let more and more time pass.

    So, Mr. Speaker, we have to realize that covert operations simply cannot be the primary means by which we expect to deter Iran. If prevention is our real commitment, and not merely lip service, then we must deal with that Iranian nuclear challenge immediately, and not later.

    {time} 1200 Every day that passes, Iran grows more dangerously close to realizing its nuclear ambition--and to becoming virtually untouchable militarily. In the face of that reality, the more breathtaking reality is that it seems both the Iranian and American administrations favor wasting more time: Iran, because it allows them to forge ahead toward completion, and the Obama administration, because it allows them to postpone difficult decisions which would necessitate actual leadership from the White House.

    Mr. Speaker, the President's disingenuously stated ends are utterly at odds with our actual response, and this raises a host of questions as to the credibility of either the administration's true intent or its chosen strategies. It's almost unimaginable how much further American strategic credibility would deteriorate if Iran actually acquires the bomb in spite of the half-hearted ``warnings'' of Mr. Obama.

    Credibility questions also abound with regard to the administration's reasoning against military action. Time and again administration officials argue that the futility of military action is real since, allegedly, some of the nuclear assets are difficult to reach, and a military action may only postpone the nuclear program by a couple of years. But, Mr. Speaker, this is a peculiar argument, at the very least.

    Any nuclear production asset that is destroyed can be eventually rebuilt. Moreover, chasing each and every centrifuge, wherever it is stashed away, is ultimately an ineffective strategy. So why does the administration advocate such a strategy? Our strategic challenge, Mr. Speaker, is Iran's policy of pursuing a military nuclear capability. It is not necessarily, not even mostly, that Iran is currently in possession of certain nuclear production assets. It is Iran's policy that must be altered. Production assets will then inherently follow. To realize its objectives, the U.S. must compel Iran to alter its policy of acquiring a military nuclear capability and then enforce the policy change over time.

    If we fail to deprive Iran of nuclear weapons, we will ultimately have to face infinitely more dangerous challenges than those associated with preventing it from going nuclear. Consider the dangers for a moment of conducting a second operation to free Kuwait, only this time, once it's been taken over by a nuclear-armed Iran. And none of this even touches upon the grave reality that would emerge once Iran possesses intercontinental ballistic missile capability along with a strategic reach to our own shores.

    Mr. Speaker, it's a sad day when the vacuum of leadership in the White House has allowed Iran to posture more credibly than America, in spite of wielding a much smaller stick. In this instance, it has literally allowed Iran to be more strategically effective than we are.

    Now, Mr. Speaker, the administration has been trying for a very long time to diplomatically talk its way out of this challenge or to bluff its way out of the challenge by moving military assets up and down the Gulf, and therefore has made it doubtful that any further such statements or deployments can ever suffice to get the job done. Indeed, they may well have the opposite effect, as the demarcation of the administration's risk tolerance, which to any observer of its actions caps the ends it can reasonably expect to realize.

    So, Mr. Speaker, this brings us to the critical question that everyone should be asking themselves: If this administration is so deterred by a pre-nuclear Iran, how would it ever face up to a nuclear- armed Iran? This is why, to date, in the only game that matters--that of conflicting policies--Mr. Speaker, the United States has not been able to alter Iran's policy of acquiring nuclear weapons. And, Mr. Speaker, we are running out of time to do things differently.

    With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.


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