July 14, 2015
Minneapolis, MN — Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), issued the following statement on the announcement of a completed Iran nuclear deal with the P5+1:
"The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) hopes that the agreement announced today in Vienna will resolve the issue of the Iranian nuclear threat and not lead to increased instability in the Middle East. We are concerned, however, that this deal may be terribly insufficient. We look forward to learning the specifics of the accord in the coming weeks as we seek to understand its implications and its efficacy.
"The JCRC has consistently preferred a diplomatic resolution to the threat of a nuclear Iran. The possibility that the world's leading exporter of terrorism could pose an existential threat to its neighbors is a scenario too grave to ignore. We commend the Obama Administration for its tireless efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution. We hope that the agreement announced today successfully curtails the Iranian threat. However, as President Barack Obama, Speaker John Boehner, and many others have stated, 'no deal is better than a bad deal.' The question before all of us is whether or not this is a 'good deal' and thus is deserving of bipartisan Congressional support.
"In making our determination, the JCRC is particularly interested in how the Obama Administration answers a series of tough questions posed by Ambassador Dennis Ross, who served two years as special assistant to President Obama and as the National Security Council's senior director for the Central Region (which includes Iran). In his op-ed, published just this morning in The Washington Post, Ambassador Ross highlighted several vulnerabilities of the deal, including the fact that it legitimizes Iran as a threshold nuclear state; will likely allow Iran to gain access to $150 billion in frozen accounts within a year; and depends heavily on the Iranians allowing access to suspect sites.
"Moreover, in reviewing this deal within a more global context, we cannot forget that the State Department categorizes Iran as one the world's three state sponsors of terrorism, a point reaffirmed today in the testimony of General Paul Selva in his U.S. Senate confirmation hearing to become the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Iranian advisors and technology on behalf of Shia militia killed and wounded Minnesota soldiers in Iraq. In 1994, Iran coordinated the bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which killed 85 people and injured hundreds. Middle East expert and journalist Jeffrey Goldberg wrote this morning that because of this agreement, '[t]he theocratic regime that rules Iran...will be more powerful tomorrow than it is today....'
"We need no reminder that Iran's regime does not share the interests and values of the U.S. and our allies; not because of forty years of history but because of events as recent as this past week when they staged a rally in which thousands marched through the streets of Tehran chanting 'Down with America' and 'Death to Israel.' While we remain hopeful that today's agreement will end the nuclear threat, history — and current threats by the Iranian regime — dictate that we remain concerned and diligent.
"Over the next few months, our focus shifts from the negotiations in Vienna to the halls of Congress where members will debate the merits of today's deal. In particular, over the next 60 days, Congress will need to decide whether current sanctions, including sanctions which were imposed on Iran because of four decades of Iranian backed terrorism, should be lifted."
As the public affairs voice of the Jewish community, the JCRC fights anti-Semitism and prejudice, advocates for Israel, provides Holocaust education, promotes tolerance and social justice, and builds bridges across the Jewish and broader communities.