Earlier this week, Americans were shocked by images of our sailors being subjected to humiliation by the Iranian military. They were forced to kneel with their hands behind their heads. A female sailor was made to wear a head covering and the commander told to “look happy” and answer questions on camera that were then broadcast throughout Iran and around the world.
As our men and women in uniform were being used as propaganda props by the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, President Obama was preparing to provide their hostage takers with upwards of $100 billion in sanctions relief and endorse an Iranian nuclear capability.
That relief will begin today, the so-called “Implementation Day” of President Obama’s deeply flawed deal with Iran. Iran will receive much-needed funds to expand its regional aggression and its support to terrorist groups like Hezbollah.
By channeling this money to Tehran and giving the mullahs international legitimacy, the Obama administration is fueling the greatest growth in Iranian power since the Islamic Republic was established in 1979. What’s worse, for months Iran has telegraphed in word and deed how it plans to utilize this newfound power—namely, to dominate the Middle East and threaten American security.
When President Obama announced the nuclear deal last July, he expressed hope for a new era of cooperation with Iran. Ever since, Tehran has mocked him. Missiles have been fired near a U.S. aircraft carrier. Iran has violated an international prohibition on tests of ballistic missiles only to have the United States back away from imposing new sanctions for fear of upsetting Iran. Iran continued to take innocent Americans hostage in an effort to eventually free criminals imprisoned in the U.S.
We rejoice at the return home of any American who has been unjustly imprisoned, but trading criminals for pastors, journalists, or students who committed no crime sends the wrong message to America's adversaries the world over.
This nuclear deal and the appeasement that has accompanied it will not improve Iranian behavior. Just the opposite—it rewards bad behavior. It teaches the world a simple lesson: when challenged, America backs down and abandons its allies.
We will suffer immediate consequences in Syria. As President Obama celebrates Implementation Day, he might as well be celebrating the perpetual rule of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. By handing money to Iran, Syria’s regional patron and defender, the nuclear accord will subsidize Assad’s murder machine, the greatest single recruitment tool for the Islamic State (ISIS). Fueling Iran’s regional ambitions and its support for Assad, as Obama's policy ends up doing, will only cause ISIS to grow stronger, not weaker.
It will also allow Iran to continue to sow unrest in Bahrain, Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq. It will put more money behind Iran’s efforts to threaten Israel’s security. All of this will leave the world more dangerous if this agreement is left in place.
As President, I will start by beginning to undo the flawed nuclear accord on day one. I will restore the sanctions on Iran in every sector: banking, currency, and oil and energy exports, as well as on insurance, automotive, shipping, and precious metals. I will work with Congress to impose crushing new sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iran’s leadership for its abysmal human rights abuses.
Experience demonstrates that Iran only responds to pressure—the more intense and comprehensive, the better. When I am President, the mullahs in Tehran will face a simple choice: they can keep their nuclear weapons infrastructure, or they can keep their economy—but they cannot keep both.
I will also recommit the United States to supporting its allies in the Middle East rather than coddling its enemies. I would visit Israel on my first trip abroad and rebuild our relationships with our Sunni Arab allies. The United States is the most powerful country in the history of the world—a determined effort on our part to forge a better and more serious nuclear deal supported by our allies and consistent with our principles will produce a safer, more secure Middle East.
Unlike President Obama and Secretary Clinton, I understand the difference between freedom and fear, democracy and dictatorship. Today, President Obama and this evil regime in Iran may celebrate the end of international sanctions, but their celebrations will be short-lived with me as President.