Iraq Vet Senator on Iran: ‘Regime Change’ Must be Our Goal

By Penny Starr | January 14, 2015 | 6:00 PM EST

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark) spoke at the Heritage Foundation's conservative summit on Jan. 13, 2015. ( Starr)

( – The Obama administration's negotiations with Iran on its nuclear ambitions are a “sham” and the way to protect America is “regime change,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said at a conservative summit at the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday.

“The goal of our policy must be clear – regime change in Iran,” Cotton said. “We cannot and will not be safe as long as Islamist despots rule in Iran.

“The policy of the United States should therefore be to support regime opponents and promote a constitutional government at peace with the United States, Israel and the world,” he added.

Cotton also warned against Obama taking unilateral action in reaching some sort of agreement with Iran.

“Any unilateral agreement with Iran might be his worst abuse yet of his executive power and our constitutional system of checks and balances,” he said, noting that only Congress has the authority under the Constitution to permanently lift sanctions against Iran.

“The Founders specifically required Senate notification of such agreements to protect Americans from rash, unwise executive action – perhaps taken more to secure a legacy than to secure America’s interests.”

Calling Iran a “rogue state,” designated a state sponsor of terror “by Obama’s own State Department,” Cotton said the threat posed by Iran should not be underestimated.

“We should put nothing past this rogue state, including a direct strike on the ‘little Satan,’ Israel, or the ‘great Satan,’ America,” he said. “Nor should we think Iran would hesitate to provide nuclear material and technology to its terrorist proxies.”

Cotton, who served in the U.S. Army in Iraq, also said that military action to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons should not be off the table.

“The credible threat of force only strengthens our other tools of national power – diplomatic, economic, financial,” Cotton said.

“No one should ever take lightly the prospect of military action,” he said. “I certainly do not. Only those who have not tasted war’s bitter cup would wish another sip.

“But the surest way to preserve the peace and to prevent war and to prepared for war,” Cotton said. “And we must be prepared to do whatever is necessary to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities.

“President Obama should make it utterly clear that Iran is not immune from military strikes and that the United States has the capabilities to severely set back Iran’s nuclear program because we do,” Cotton said.

Cotton, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee during his one term in the House of Representatives, made his remarks ahead of expected legislation in the Senate to put new sanctions in place against Iran. The White House opposes the move, saying it could derail the current negotiations.

But Cotton said in his remarks that the negotiations – involving Iran and the P5+1 group (the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) – were a “farce.”

“Iran has been killing Americans for 35 years,” he said, citing instances when Iran directed or funded attacks that killed Americans, ranging from the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut that killed almost 300 people, most of them Americans, to Iran provided funding and weapons to elements fighting coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cotton said the goal of the U.S. should be the complete disarmament of Iran.

“Our policy should make clear that there is only one acceptable outcome to the nuclear showdown with Iran: Complete, unconditional nuclear disarmament by Iran subject to unfettered, on-site verification by U.S. and Western officials along the line with disarmament by South Africa and Libya,” he said.

“Lesser terms will not fully protect America from the threat posed by a nuclear Iran.”

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