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Sen. Toomey takes on Iran

“The fact is we are rapidly approaching a point of no return with respect to Iran and its nuclear weapons program,” Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said Tuesday.
“The fact is we are rapidly approaching a point of no return with respect to Iran and its nuclear weapons program,” Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said Tuesday. Associated Press, file

How do you solve a problem like Iran?

Not the way the Obama administration is proposing, says U.S. Sen. Pat. Toomey.

“The fact is we are rapidly approaching a point of no return with respect to Iran and its nuclear weapons program,” said Toomey in a call with reporters on Tuesday.

His comments came on the heels of his shared op-ed with former Pennsylvania governor and the first homeland security secretary, Tom Ridge. The two took President Barack Obama to task for Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Iran is in full compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and a recommendation for suspension of sanctions in keeping with that agreement.

The only incentive for Iran to pretend to comply with the agreement will be gone.

Sen. Pat Toomey

“If this delusion results in the imminent lifting of sanctions, Iran will gain immediate access to more than $100 billion; the sanctions regime will effectively be over; and the only incentive for Iran to even pretend to comply with the agreement will be gone,” they wrote in the Philly.com piece.

Toomey told reporters Iran’s compliance was “a proven lie,” urging Democratic legislators who supported the president’s agreement with Iran in 2015 to “rise up” and insist on strict enforcement.

He detailed a list of problems with the Iranian program’s compliance, including testing of a long-range precision-guided ballistic missile in October, weapons sent from Iran to Syria on Russian planes in violation of a United Nations resolution, and the results of a December report from the International Atomic Energy Agency that concluded the contentious Middle East nation had been develping nuclear weapons until at least 2009.

Toomey is involved in a heated re-election campaign, facing off with Democratic challengers including retired U.S. Navy Adm. Joe Sestak. Unsurprisingly, Sestak had a very different take on the issue.

Verify, then trust.

Adm. Joe Sestak, U.S. Navy, retired

In an interview with the Centre Daily Times on Wednesday, Sestak said he was “disappointed” in the Obama administration’s decision not pursue some new sanction for a December missile launch, but said that was a separate issue from following through on the repeal of sanctions in connection with the JCPOA. Sestak called Toomey’s opposition something that would “undermine Israel and U.S. security.”

Sestak gave Iran credit for taking some moves in shelving its missile program ahead of schedule, namely the dismantling of centrifuges and shipping of uranium, something he said sets any nuclear weapon development back years.

“To call for us not keeping our end of the deal is a way to harm our security,” he said.

His response was a take on President Ronald Reagan’s old Cold War advice of “trust but verify.”

“I believe in ‘verify, then trust,’ ” Sestak said.

His version, he said, is to verify what Iran is doing to comply, and let the world trust that the U.S. will follow through.

Toomey still said that Iran poses a “very dangerous threat.” He said when he returns to Washington on Monday, he expects to the issue to be “a priority topic.”

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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