Cong. French Hill, R-Little Rock, told the Rotary Club of Downtown Little Rock Tuesday (Sept. 1) that the proposed deal with Iran will lead to a Middle East arms race and will unfreeze assets that the Iranians will use to fund terrorist organizations.
“The bottom line is, this deal delays Iran’s nuclear program, but in no way ends it, and in exchange for that they get complete and utter sanctions relief,” Hill said in his speech at the Clinton Library.
Hill said he had read the agreement and attended two classified briefings with Secretary of State John Kerry. A member of the House Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Finance, he said the deal will provide Iran with $140 billion in previously frozen assets.
“Iran can still spend the majority of its vast signing bonus on its domestic economy while at the same time increase its support for terrorism around the world,” he said.
He said that once the deal is signed, Iranian banks become part of the international banking system.
The agreement means that no American will be allowed to inspect any facilities while International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors will not automatically be able to go to any military facility – just those listed in the agreement.
“If they want to go somewhere else, they have to potentially take up to 24 days to justify how to do that in a back and forth diplomatic kabuki dance. Hardly ‘anytime, anywhere’ inspections,” Hill said.
He said that, “Iran has a long history of secret activities and will continue them, in my view, as long as they can do so without getting caught.”
He said the deal ends the arms embargo after five years and that Russia is already selling Iran some weapons. Iran’s supposedly peaceful nuclear program will encourage Israel and Saudi Arabia to build up their capabilities before the deal ends.
He said the deal conflicts with the Patriot Act, which says that accounts can be frozen if a country is caught financing terrorism.
Hill also said the Obama administration lacks a multi-faceted approach with Syria. After President Obama declared that the use of chemical weapons would be a red line, he didn’t do enough when the Syrian government used them. The country is a breeding ground for terrorist organizations like ISIS, more than 200,000 have been killed, and 50% of the population is on the run.
In Iraq, Obama didn’t agree to a status of forces agreement, an action which Hill said paved the way for ISIS’ expansion into that country. A member of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus, he said religious minorities “are being uprooted, subjugated and murdered by ISIS. This group of barbarous thugs is using medieval violence such as crucifixion, burning people alive and beheadings as daily fare.”
Hill also criticized the Obama administration for its failure to respond to Russian aggression against Ukraine. He said the United States should arm the Ukrainians with lethal weapons and that the U.S. should allow exports of crude oil and natural gas to Europe so that those countries would not have to rely on Russian supplies. He said many fear Russia is trying to reassemble its old Eastern bloc.
“The Obama administration’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been full of rhetoric with little or no real action and in my view puts the legitimacy of NATO at risk,” he said.
Hill said that the Budget Control Act of 2011, which created automatic sequestration cuts to the military of $487 billion over 10 years, should be replaced. Adjusted for inflation, the military’s budget had fallen from $528 billion to $490 billion, with Arkansas assets such as the National Guard losing funding. He said Congress needs to “get our spending house in order because sequestration is too crude an instrument to either cut domestic spending or defense spending.”