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January 16, 2014 12:00 pm

In Defense of the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act

avatar by Eytan Sosnovich

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Senator Cory Booker. Photo:screenshot via NBC's Meet the Press program.

Ryan Cooper is not especially concerned with logic. On Tuesday, he wrote a scathing article in The New Republic “Žsingling out New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker, accusing him of political jockeying in supporting the new Iran sanctions bill. For Cooper, political motives could be the only possible reason for any senator – especially a Democratic one – to support this bill because in Cooper’s mind, the bill only exists to kill the P5+1 brokered Joint Plan of Action (JPA) and push the United States into war with Iran. Cooper is not only wrong, but his argument is illogical.

The bill in question is the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, and its goal is not “an attempt to kill the Iran deal” as Cooper puts it, but is rather an attempt to do something that, given Iran’s recent history, is practically required. The bill is designed to hold Iran accountable for its promises, an objective which to date has evaded both the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the world’s best negotiators. The bill proposes to do this by imposing new sanctions on Iran one year from now if, and only if“Ž, negotiations break down, or Iran reneges on its word and engages in nuclear activities prohibited by the JPA.

Cooper says that the bill’s true purpose is to kill the JPA because “”ŽIranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif himself said new sanctions would signal a lack of good faith that would kill any long-term agreement.” “ŽThis merits repeating. Cooper flatly rejects the idea that this bill is simply an insurance policy meant to hold Iran accountable, and accepts the idea that the bill is designed to kill the JPA because Iran, the world’s most duplicitous regime, says so. That Iran says that a bill designed to hold it accountable will kill the deal should set off a red flag. Either Iran plans to cheat, which given its recent history would come as no surprise, or it is simply bluffing because it does not want a deal in writing that will hold the mullahs accountable. In either case, to take Iran’s word at face value is not only illogical, it is delusionary.  “Ž

Cory Booker and the 58 other senators that have come out in support of the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act should be lauded by the media, not vilified as Ryan Cooper and others have done. The burden of proof, as others have written, is and should be on Iran, not the United States and the international community. The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act is meant to ensure that this is the case.

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