Defense11 August 2015

Notes from Norm: Investing in Iran’s Reign of Terror

In the second of my series on the Iran nuclear agreement brokered by President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry I intend to focus on the impact lifting of economic sanctions will have on Iran’s ongoing efforts to support terrorism across the globe.

Despite assurances to the contrary, both Obama and Kerry readily gave up economic sanctions on Iran in their feckless enthusiasm to get a deal – any deal – with the Iranian regime.

According to various estimates, including those from President Obama himself, Iran will soon have access to anywhere from $100 billion to $150 billion in new funds thanks to their willingness to support an agreement that will permit them to continue to engage in activity that will ultimately result in a nuclear bomb.

Given Iran’s proven use of its national resources to fund terrorist activity throughout the region and the world it would be naïve and foolish to believe they won’t be prepared to direct a significant portion of those resources to further expand their footprint of terror.

During a line of questioning initiated by a Democratic Congressman, Secretary of State Kerry endorsed both the naiveté and the foolishness of this agreement.

Asked whether implementation of the deal would increase Iran’s support for terrorism, the Secretary gave an answer that should doom this agreement on this point alone.

“They [Iran] are committed to certain things that we interpret as terrorism, they don’t, and we’re going to continue to conflict on those issues.”

Words matter and when Secretary Kerry dismisses legitimate concerns that Iran will use its economic windfall to further invest in attacks against its enemies, our allies and even the United States itself, Congress must further increase its level of scrutiny about this agreement and reject it.

According to a study by the American Action Forum (AAF), Iran spends about 3.4 percent of its total budget on its military.

Using an estimate from Foreign Policy Iran stands to gain about $140 billion in unfrozen assets and other revenues with the removal of economic sanctions from this agreement.

But, the AAF notes that Iran is likely not being particularly honest about how much money it truly spends on its military.

Of the amount it does spend, it is estimated that 65 percent of its military budget is given to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) –  its elite paramilitary force that actively supports terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East.

According to the AAF if current budget trends persist, the Iran deal would mean at least $4.8 billion in additional military spending and a 50 percent budget increase for the IRGC with the lifting of economic sanctions on Iran.

As most Republicans, and a growing number of Democrats, on Capitol Hill continue to express their opposition to this agreement, many continue to focus on the past behavior of Iran.

Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, next in line to become the Senate Minority Leader, has zeroed in on Iran’s past and current behavior as one of the key reasons he will oppose this agreement.

It is an appropriate focus.

Even when Iran was reeling from the power of economic sanctions the leadership of Iran continued to use limited economic resources to fund acts of terror across the world.

Acts of terror that directly resulted in the death of at least 500 American soldiers.

Acts of terror intended to wipe Israel from the face of the Earth.

Now with as much as $140 billion in new funds at their disposal, and economic sanctions virtually eliminated, what reason is there for the regime to refrain from continuing to make investment in terror?

Without any credible “snapback” conditions that would put crippling economic sanctions back on Iran should they fail to honor this agreement the flow of financial resources will continue unabated as will the public commitments they continue to make to destroy the very existence of their sworn enemies.

Americans know terrorism when they see it.  We’ve seen it committed against our allies.  We’ve seen it committed against our fighting men and women.

We’ve seen it committed against thousands of Americans on our own soil and in our own cities.

If we are, as Secretary Kerry says, to continue to “conflict” with Iran on matters of terrorism, why would we undermine our hand in this conflict by giving them $140 billion to use against us?

It’s time for America to restore common cause with our allies.  

Congress must reject the Iran nuclear deal. We don't need American tax dollars funding more Iranian terrorism.