Ah, Marco… always thinking ahead, aren’t we?
Senator Marco Rubio is a much discussed GOP contender to be the next President of United States come 2016. He faces a bit of an uphill climb with conservatives because of his miscalculation on comprehensive immigration reform a few years back. But with mainline Republican voters and your average conservative for that matter, Rubio is as good a candidate any. So when you hear him say things like what he recently told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, you can be sure that it was measured and calculated to win him votes.
Hewitt asked Rubio if the President should just walk away from the Iran negotiations because of their recent rhetoric and behavior. Senator Rubio went on to explain that there were many problems with the current negotiations, so it was an easy answer – yes, he would shut this deal down ASAP.
Partial Transcript from the Hugh Hewitt Show:
Hugh Hewitt: Should we walk away from these negotiations in Geneva right now because of the conduct of Iran in other places than that negotiating room?
Marco Rubio: Well first of all, we need to remember what’s not being covered by these negotiations, which are just as important as their nuclear ambition, and that’s the intercontinental ballistic missiles that they’re developing. And it’s very reasonable that before the end of this decade, Iran could possess a long range rocket that could reach the United States, the Continental U.S. They’re rapidly, that’s not even being covered by these negotiations. They’re not even the subject of sanctions. And I think that alone is a reason to be imposing sanctions on Iran, not to mention their state sponsorship of terrorism. That being said, any agreement that allows Iran to retain enrichment capability, leaves in place the infrastructure they will need in five, ten, eight, whenever they decide to ramp up enrichment and produce a weapon, if the only thing standing between them and a nuclear weapon becomes, and the ability to deliver it through a long range rocket becomes the ability to enrich at a higher level, that’s the easiest switch to flip. And you saw the North Koreans follow a model such as this. So I just think the deal is premised on an agreement on something that is totally unacceptable, and quite frankly, abandons almost a decade of sanctions built on the idea originally that they would not be allowed to enrich. And by the way, the Saudis, the Turks, the Egyptians, even the Jordanians have made very clear that whatever Iran is allowed to do under this agreement, they will expect the same. So if Iran is allowed to enrich up to 5%, 20% for research, the Saudis are going to insist on the same capability. And you suddenly are going to have region awash with nuclear infrastructure.
Hugh Hewitt: Then let me ask you the three ifs. If that deal is in fact signed by President Obama that allows them to retain enrichment, and if you run for president, and if you win, would you revoke that deal?
Marco Rubio: Yes.
Hugh Hewitt: Would you go on record and just let them know that’s not going to…
Marco Rubio: Absolutely, and I already have. And the point, because it’s not, first of all, it’s not an enforceable deal as we made clear in the Cotton letter. It won’t survive this president in terms of you know, a future president will have to decide whether to live by it or not. It’s not enforceable. It doesn’t have the force of law. Now if he brings it to the Congress and can get it passed, that’s a different story. He’s indicated that he prefers to take it to the United Nations instead of the U.S. Congress. The second point I would make is that I think it’ll be difficult to reassemble the international sanctions if this falls apart, but nonetheless, we should be willing to lead unilaterally. And I think others will ultimately see it. And the third is I anticipate the Iranians will take advantage of any loopholes they can find in the deal, and I think they’ll flat out try to violate portions of it. You know, Iran has other challenges ahead. They’re going to have a succession fight fairly soon when the Supreme Leader passes from the scene. And it’s very possible that the new leader of Iran, after the current leader vanishes, could be someone even more radical, as hard as that is to imagine. And that’s something to keep an eye on as well.