MIL-OSI USA: Murphy Discusses Urgency of a New Nuclear Agreement with Iran with Special Envoy Robert Malley

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US Senate News:

Source: United States Senator for Connecticut – Chris Murphy
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WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) spoke on Wednesday at a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing with Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley on the JCPOA negotiations and United States’ policy on Iran moving forward.
Murphy laid out the three ways to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon: “You have economic pressure, you have a military option, and then you have diplomacy. All of them are imperfect. We’re just in the business of trying to choose of those imperfect options, which is the least imperfect.”
Murphy continued: “First is economic pressure. So the Trump administration tried this, they pulled out of the deal, they, as you have articulated, applied hundreds of new unilateral sanctions.”
“[T]here are significant limitations to the military option. And there is the significant risk to enormous spillover that could get the United States drawn into another conflict in the Middle East that would last a generation,” Murphy added.
On the threat of failing to reach an agreement with Iran, Murphy said: “[I]f there is no diplomatic agreement, and Iran remains weeks away from having enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, what happens with respect to the decisions that our allies make in the region. At some point, the Gulf, Turkey starts to recognize that Iran is so close to a nuclear weapon that they have to start making their own plans as well. The true nightmare here is a nuclear armed Middle East and that becomes a much more realistic proposition if diplomacy does not work.”
You can read Murphy’s full exchange with Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley:
MURPHY: “Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, I always like to begin where we agree. And we agree, Republicans and Democrats on this committee, that Iran should not have a nuclear weapon. We should have a policy that makes that prospect, the least likely.
“And so you’ve got three ways to do that. You have economic pressure, you have a military option, and then you have diplomacy. All of them are imperfect. We’re just in the business of trying to choose of those imperfect options, which is the least imperfect.
“So let’s take the first two to understand how they’ve worked or how they would work. First is economic pressure. So the Trump administration tried this, they pulled out of the deal, they, as you have articulated, applied hundreds of new unilateral sanctions. And I just want to ask you a series of simple questions to understand what the reality was, after those sanctions were applied. And hopefully, these are one word answers.
“So after President Trump withdrew from the Iran deal, and imposed maximum sanctions, did the pace of Iranian attacks on US personnel in Iraq get better or worse?
MALLEY: “Much worse.”
MURPHY: “Did Iran’s support for regional proxies like the Houthis, did it get better or worse?”
MALLEY: “It continued, in some cases, it got worse.”
MURPHY: “Did the frequency of those proxies’ attacks on our Gulf allies get better or worse?”
MALLEY: “Worse.”
MURPHY: “Did the pace of [the] Iranians’ nuclear research program get better or worse, from our perspective?”
MALLEY: “Much worse.”
MURPHY: “So we tried the approach of just continuing sanctions and ratcheting them up. And by every measure, Iran’s behavior relative to U.S. national security interests got worse.
“Okay, so let’s talk a little bit more about the third option. The other alternative to diplomacy, and that’s military action. I’ve heard what you said here today, Mr. O’Malley, you have said that the President leaves all options on the table. But what I understand is that there are severe limitations to a military option, in part because it is difficult to bomb knowledge out of existence. And the risk to spill over into a regional war is significant.
“And so I understand there are things you can say in an unclassified setting versus a classified setting. But just, I want to make sure you don’t leave the impression with the committee, that there is a clean military option on the table to remove Iran from a nuclear weapons future. Can you just talk about your assessment of a military option, it that is all that’s left?”
MALLEY: “Thank you, Senator for allowing me to clarify that point. I  did say all options on the table. I also said and this is President Biden’s firm belief and I think it’s a belief shared by everyone who’s looked into this, that by far, the best option is a diplomatic one. Military option cannot resolve this issue. It could set it back and we’re happy to talk about it more in a classified setting. But there is no military response, and we’ve heard this repeatedly, including from Minister Gantz, Israel’s defense minister, so absolutely correct.
“I don’t even want to get into the other aspects of our experience with war in the Middle East. So we know what it costs. We know what it’s meant to us and to our men and women in uniform. But let’s leave it at this. The only real solution here is a diplomatic one.”
MURPHY: “Yeah, there are certain things we can talk about here and certain things we can’t, but there are significant limitations to the military option. And there is the significant risk to enormous spillover that could get the United States drawn into another conflict in the Middle East that would last a generation.
“Finally, Mr. Malley, if there is no diplomatic agreement, and Iran remains weeks away from having enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, what happens with respect to the decisions that our allies make in the region. At some point, the Gulf, Turkey starts to recognize that Iran is so close to a nuclear weapon that they have to start making their own plans as well. The true nightmare here is a nuclear armed Middle East and that becomes a much more realistic proposition if diplomacy does not work, is that correct?”
Malley: “Correct.”

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