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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rep. Lois Frankel opposes Iran deal

7

September

Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, said this afternoon she opposes the Iran nuclear deal "because it legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program after 15 years and gives Iran access to billions of dollars without a commitment to cease its terrorist activity"

“It's too high a price to pay," she said.

Florida Democrats in favor of the deal

Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Kathy Castor
Patrick Murphy
Frederica Wilson
Corrine Brown

Florida Democrats opposed to the deal

Lois Frankel
Ted Deutch
Alcee Hastings

Undeclared

Alan Grayson
Gwen Graham

Here is Frankel's full statement:

Let me start by saying the obvious: Iran should not be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon. Iran is the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism, lending support to Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Assad regime in Syria. As disturbing, if Iran becomes a threshold nuclear state, it is expected that other countries in the Middle East will seek nuclear weapons, leading to proliferation throughout an already unstable and dangerous region.

That's why the prospective nuclear deal with Iran is one of the most important votes I have faced in my public career. In that regard, I have spent the 60-day review period engaged in intensive and thorough hearings, briefings, and discussions with administration officials, colleagues, constituents, as well as global leaders. I value the tireless dedication of President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and the U.S.-led negotiating team to reach a diplomatic solution.

With that said, I do not support the current deal because it legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program after 15 years and gives Iran access to billions of dollars without a commitment to cease its terrorist activity. It’s too high a price to pay.

As members of Congress we have put ourselves in a complicated situation by weighing in after a deal has already been agreed to by top U.S. negotiators, five partner nations, Iran, and the United Nations. It is an agreement that even ardent supporters admit is far from perfect, but argue that rejecting it may entail sobering consequences, including isolating the United States on the international stage, unraveling sanctions without any gain, and allowing Iran back on the path of building a nuclear weapon.

As wrenching as this decision is for some lawmakers, it does not compare to the agony of the men, women, and children suffering at the hands of Iran's terrorist regime. If the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran is approved, the Iranians will receive billions of dollars in unfrozen assets and future revenues that will undoubtedly be available to intensify their support of horrific activity aimed at innocent human beings.

Stripped of its technicalities, this deal essentially rewards—in fact, enables— a terrorist regime without extracting sufficient concessions. Concessions that would have made this an acceptable deal, in my opinion, should have been permanent nuclear disarmament and a cessation of direct and proxy aid towards non-nuclear terrorism.

The release of sanctions without requiring a stop to terrorist activities is disturbingly counterproductive. We contemplate releasing billions to a destructive terrorist regime, while we spend billions trying to keep peace in the Middle East.

Iran is one of three countries in the world the United States has designated as a state sponsor of terrorism. In fact, the U.S. government classifies the Islamic Republic of Iran as the most active state sponsor of terrorism. Iran has a long history of sponsoring terrorist attacks against the United States and Israel. Iran’s proxy Hezbollah, the first terrorist organization to use suicide bombing in the Middle East, has killed hundreds of U.S. citizens and Israelis at home and abroad. Iran also lends support to Hamas, the Taliban, and militias in Iraq. By supplying weapons, bombs, and militia to Assad in Syria, Iran is in large part responsible for the greatest humanitarian crisis of recent times.

There should be no doubt why Israel, our best friend and greatest ally in the Middle East, has determined that Iran poses an existential threat. Iran’s Supreme Leader has not only called for the annihilation of Israel, calling it a "cancerous tumor," but reportedly published a 416 page book detailing the means by which Israel’s effacement should be achieved—just weeks after the nuclear agreement was signed.

In 2006, Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets and missiles at towns and villages across Northern Israel. With their augmented arsenal courtesy of Iran, Hezbollah now points over 100,000 missiles at Israel with launchers strategically placed in densely populated areas throughout Lebanon.

Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Hamas terrorists have fired more than 11,000 rockets into Israel with Iran’s support. Over five million Israelis are currently living under threat of these attacks. In Sderot, located less than a mile from Gaza, children, 75% of whom suffer post-traumatic stress disorders due to the violence, have less than 15 seconds to seek shelter when rockets are fired.

New reports indicate that Iran is funding the rebuilding of Hamas’ sophisticated tunnel network to attack Israeli civilians. Despite sectarian differences, Tehran and Hamas are united in their call for the extinction of Israel.

While the struggle of Israel has been at the forefront of the Iran deal debate, the horrific stories coming out of Syria must not be ignored. Iran props up the brutal Syrian dictator Assad who carries out mass torture on his own population in order to maintain power. Barrel bombs with nails and chlorine, sarin nerve gas, starvation, and rape are just a few of his sadistic methods of repression. His regime is responsible for the deaths of over 250,000 people and the displacement of 10 million from their homes as they try to escape in terror, pouring into neighboring countries and Europe.

The world has witnessed their desperate plight: thousands fleeing for freedom, children’s lifeless bodies washing up on shore, refugees suffocating in trucks. Along with the moral calamity, displaced Syrians are straining the resources of nearby countries and Europe.

What’s more, Assad's brutality has become a rallying cry for ISIL recruitment.

Proponents of the Iranian nuclear agreement argue that it was never meant to address Iran’s terrorist and expansionist activities—that only nuclear related sanctions will be lifted and terrorism ones will continue to be enforced. The tradeoff proponents advance is unsatisfactory: at best a 15 year delay, unlocking the next generation’s door to a wealthier emboldened Iran on the threshold of nuclear breakout.

Whichever way members of Congress decide to vote this week, we should recognize that an issue of such seminal national security importance should not be co-opted for partisan gain and that our job of addressing Iran’s regional ambitions will continue to be a central challenge of U.S. foreign policy for years to come. Americans on both sides of the debate must come together in moving forward to protect the security of our country and our allies, and stop the carnage of terrorist activity.

[Last modified: Monday, September 7, 2015 4:59pm]

    

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