In his speech before Congress last March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recalled the Book of Esther, explaining how this ancient queen exposed a plot to destroy the Jewish people and, as a result, ensured good triumphed over evil. 

As Netanyahu went on to explain, the Jewish people once again face an adversary who seeks to destroy them – an adversary who is on the brink of developing a nuclear weapon.  That matters to us, not only because we ought to stand against this kind of obliterating evil, but because the national security interests of Israel and the United States are closely intertwined.

Israel plays a critical role in our efforts to defeat ISIL, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist organizations in the region.  Our countries have collaborated on improving stability in the region, worked together to improve behavioral screening techniques at airports, and teamed up on counterterrorism efforts that make each of us a little safer.  We also share a common enemy – Iran, a country whose intentions to destroy does not stop at Israel, but extends to the United States.  Undoubtedly, Israel is one of our closest allies in a tumultuous region and so their survival is critical to American national security.

Nonetheless, President Obama is pursuing a deal with Iran.  Such a deal would put nuclear restrictions on Iran and in exchange, America would lift some or all economic sanctions on the Iranian people. I, along with many in the national security community, am concerned that the administration is headed down the wrong path with these negotiations.

If we are going to make a deal, it needs to be a good deal.  In other words, it must be a deal that ensures Iran has absolutely no path to a nuclear weapon.  Even no deal would be better than a bad one, as the President’s administration has admitted.

Many in South Dakota and across the county have embraced five requirements for a “good deal,” as outlined by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee – or AIPAC. I too believe these requirements are a good measurement of what a final deal should include.

First, Iran would need to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure and surrender its uranium stockpiles. 

Second, inspectors would need full access to suspicious sites – anywhere, anytime.  I for one don’t trust Iran; we must be able to verify that they’re following our rules.

Third, sanctions must stay in place until it is certified that Iran has upheld its end of the deal.  If at any point Iran violates our agreement, there needs to be immediate consequences.

Fourth, Iran needs to come clean about its previous nuclear work.  This is the first step toward building confidence in the fact that their efforts are sincere.  It’s also a way in which we can establish a baseline. 

Finally, the agreement must avoid setting an arbitrary timeline for nuclear restrictions to expire.  Iran’s nuclear program must be heavily regulated until the country demonstrates it no longer wants a nuclear weapons capability.

The negotiations between Iran, the United States and five American-aligned countries are scheduled to conclude on June 30.  At that point, Congress will have at least 30 days to consider the agreement before any congressionally mandated sanctions against Iran would be lifted.  Congress will have the ability to vote a bad deal down at that point, but that’s going to be an uphill battle, as we’ll need a number of Democrats to vote against the President’s agenda.

We must not afford Iran the ability to further threaten Middle Eastern stability, jeopardize American interests, or destroy our strongest ally. In fact, we must eliminate every nuclear pathway Iran has access to in order to help ensure – just as Queen Esther did – that good continues to triumph over evil.

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