We need to recognize Iran for what it is — the world’s leading exporter of terrorism that violates its citizens’ rights on a daily basis. Iran’s record goes to the heart of whether it can be trusted to comply with any deal that may be reached over the next four months.
So how should we use the four-month extension?
First, do not make additional concessions to Tehran. President Obama should stop simply declaring his willingness to walk away from a “bad deal” and actually follow through on his threats. If his goal is to prevent Iran’s dash toward a nuclear weapon, then, on the technical merits, the negotiations seem to be failing.
Second, we need to increase pressure on Iran on all fronts. This means increasing, not halting, sanctions, including those related to terrorism and human-rights abuses. Pressure is what brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place. As any good negotiator knows, it is only with pressure that the best deals are achieved.
Third, we need to remember that Iran in the past has halted key elements of its nuclear program only when military force was threatened. We should ensure that the U.S. threat of military action, which even President Obama insists remains on the table, remains credible.
So, in essence, go big, Mr. President. Instead of ignoring the elephant in the room, tackle the core issue — Iran’s behavior and its trustworthiness as a negotiating partner.
In his memoirs, President Reagan’s secretary of state George Shultz recounted telling his Soviet counterpart that when a regime suppresses its own people, “the international community can never be sure that such a nation will be bound by its commitments.”
This remains as true in 2014 as it was in 1987. Unless we are honest about the people we are dealing with, any deal that is reached in the next four months won’t be worth the paper it’s written on.
— Marco Rubio, the junior U.S. senator from Florida, is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Select Intelligence Committee.