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Cotton Celebrates the One-Year Anniversary of U.S. Withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal

May 8, 2019

Below are his remarks as delivered:

Five years ago, I, along with 46 of my fellow senators, released a letter to Iran's Ayatollah, letting him know that any nuclear deal he reached with President Obama wouldn't be worth the paper it was printed on unless it was ratified as a treaty by two-thirds of the United States Senate.

We wrote, "The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with a stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time."

Now a lot of people were upset by this letter but I don't really know why. All it did was state a straightforward lesson on American civics. Something any ninth grader who has read our Constitution should know. Yet, the Ayatollah agreed to a deal with President Obama that was not in fact approved by two-thirds of the Senate-in fact, it was almost rejected by three-fifths of the Senate. Just as we cautioned, not three years later, a new president did in fact revoke that deal with the stroke of a pen.

Today is the one-year anniversary of America's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. And a lot has happened since then.

Just this morning, Iran threatened to renew its rush to the bomb, stockpiling more uranium and producing more heavy water-even threatening to enrich nuclear fuels to dangerous levels in the months ahead if the civilized world does not cave to its demands. But we know better than to cave in to the Ayatollahs. The United States will remain steadfast in our maximum pressure campaign against Iran until that regime abandons its nuclear and missile program and its support for terrorism. I welcome the news that the president is announcing new sanctions on Iran's mining industry as well.

As for our European allies and partners, and members of the business community abroad, I hope Iran's threats will serve as a needed wakeup call. Any attempt to invest in Iran's market, under any circumstances other than Iran's complete and verifiable cessation of its full range of malign activities, will be fraught with huge legal and financial risks. Huge risks. Businesses shouldn't put themselves in that compromising position, and European partners shouldn't give in to Iran's high-stakes nuclear blackmail.

Of course today's announcement is just the latest dangerous provocation by the Iranian regime. In the past year, Iran and its well-armed proxies have continued their killing spree across the Middle East-the same spree they were on before and during the Iran nuclear deal. But this time, the United States has stood up to Iran rather than rewarding its evil deeds.

We've designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps for what it is-a foreign terrorist organization for plotting attacks around the world and arming groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad-the very same groups that slaughtered innocent civilians in Israel just last weekend with no regard for the lives they purportedly represent in Gaza.

We've re-imposed sanctions on Iran that were waived by President Obama. We have also recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, affirming a close ally's right to defend itself against Iranian-backed aggression.

These are good things. Iran is a weaker adversary today than it was a year ago, when it was flush with bribe money from its nuclear deal with the Obama administration.

But not everyone sees it that way. At least six Democratic presidential candidates have talked about re-entering this outdated, obsolete nuclear deal with Iran-they would give the Ayatollah and his armies sanctions relief yet again, at a time when Iran economy is on the mat. Not just in recession but in border-line depression. If we were to give them that sanctions relief we know what they would do with that money. We've seen this movie before. They would use it to build ballistic missiles. To kill and maim innocent civilians and to fuel chaos in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and further abroad.

A return to the Iran Deal would be a disastrous decision. But more important, such a decision would be every bit as reversible as the first. When are these people going to learn? Everybody ought to keep in mind this simple fact, whether you're a politician making promises on the campaign trail or a business leader considering major investments in Iran.

To make it abundantly clear on the one-year anniversary of our withdrawal from that horrific, terrible, nuclear deal, I have a gift for them all. It's a first anniversary, it's a "paper gift." I've introduced a resolution with my colleagues that re-affirms the policy of the United States to never, never allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.

Furthermore, the resolution re-affirms that sanctions can only come off of Iran once it meets the basic conditions approved by Congress under existing law. Among other things, that law requires that Iran must stop supporting terrorism and dismantle its ballistic missile program before sanctions can be waived. They can't simply be waived by a president using his so called "pen and phone".

I hope this resolution clears up any confusion about where the United States stands with respect to Iran, and for anyone considering investing in the Iranian market. America will continue to apply maximum pressure against the Ayatollah's regime so long as they continue their campaign of terror and violence against the United States and our allies throughout the Middle East. And we will continue to assist those allies as they fight against Iranian backed aggression.

So, to the Ayatollah and to all the rulers of Iran-happy anniversary.

I yield the floor.