Sen. Coats Says Obama is ‘Desperate for a Deal’ With Iran; Recalls Clinton’s North Korea ‘Mistake’

By Patrick Goodenough | April 28, 2015 | 11:27 PM EDT

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) on Tuesday portrayed President Obama as being desperate for a nuclear deal with Tehran, and scorned his assurances that an agreement will be verified to prevent cheating, pointing to failed past efforts to shut down North Korea’s nuclear programs.

“I have long been concerned that the president is determined to implement his version of the deal with Iran on his own, circumventing the Congress,” he said during a Senate debate on legislation providing for congressional review of a final Iran deal. “This is not acceptable.”

“Resolving this issue with Iran is the most significant foreign-policy and security challenge of our age,” Coats went on. “It cannot be pursued simply by the president, overreaching – or potentially overreaching – his constitutional authority, longing for legacy and desperate for a deal.”

Coats said the administration’s tactics in the negotiations with Iran were flawed from the outset, beginning with its backing down on the demand that Iran stop enriching uranium (a demand that was contained in six U.N. Security Council resolutions passed between 2006 and 2010).

“In the wake of that fundamental concession we will have to rely on elaborate monitoring mechanisms to keep uranium enrichment enterprise within agreed levels,” he said.

“On the surface there is a lot of reassurance we will be able to detect cheating, and the president has emphasized this point repeatedly.”

But Coats recalled negotiations between the last Democratic administration and North Korea that led 21 years ago to an agreement meant to end Pyongyang’s ambitions to become a nuclear weapons power.

“I’ve seen all this before. I served here in the Senate when we were told our agreements with North Korea could be verified and would lead to a safer world,” he said.

“We were misled by that illusion. Today, 20 years after the nuclear agreement with North Korea, negotiated by the Clinton administration, that country now has an estimated 20 nuclear warheads. And the Chinese experts tell us that the North Koreans will have more than 40 by the end of next year and an effective ICBM intercontinental ballistic missile, to put those weapons on.”

Coats observed that the North Korean illicit activity had taken place after the signing of the Agreed Framework with the U.S. in 1994.

In 1994 the Clinton administration negotiated the Agreed Framework with North Korea. In this Aug. 2009 file photo, former President Clinton meets with Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang to secure the release of two imprisoned U.S. journalists. (AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service)

The development of the Kim regime’s dangerous arsenal, he said, had taken place after the U.S. concluded an agreement to end its nuclear program, “confident that we would be able to detect cheating.”

“Let me repeat that: All that North Korea has achieved in violation of the agreement that we made with them, has occurred after that agreement, not before.”

Coats said he believed the U.S. was “making the same mistake” with another rogue regime

Despite the administration’s assurances of robust verification measures, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other senior figures have said repeatedly that Iran will not give international inspectors access to military sites.

“We know that much of the nefarious nuclear weapons development work has gone on in such facilities,” Coats said. “Barring access to them must simply be the end of any deal.”

Bruce Klingner, senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation, warned in a recent op-ed that Iran will likely have learned from the North Korean experience.

“Proponents for diplomatically resolving the North Korean and Iranian nuclear problems argue that, without negotiations, Pyongyang and Tehran would continue to develop nuclear weapons,” he wrote.

“Yet, North Korea continued to augment its arsenal while negotiating and even after signing numerous agreements not to do so. It is expecting too much to assume Iran has not learned that lesson from North Korea – a friendly tutor who has done so much to help Tehran advance both its nuclear and missile programs.”

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow