A House Republican who introduced a bill this week that seeks to provide authorization for the use of military force against Iran had trouble last week explaining the motives behind the measure and instead had to resort to what he himself described as “hyperbole” in order to justify it.
Rep. Trent Franks’ (R-AZ) bill, introduced on Tuesday, “provides consent to the necessary and appropriate use of force against legitimate targets in Iran” in order to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons and degrade Iran’s capabilities to produce nukes (experts say an attack would actually have the opposite effect).
When asked last week on a conservative radio program to explain his motivations for introducing the measure, Franks said he wanted to “strengthen the United States’ negotiating position” in upcoming talks with Iran (President Obama and members of his administration have already said many times that “all options are on the table”) and then reverted to what he described as “hyperbole” to expound on his reasoning.
Franks said he’s concerned about talk of allowing Iran to maintain a “peaceful nuclear program” and worried that Obama will allow Iran to have nuclear weapons — yes, weapons — as long as Iran promises they’re for peaceful purposes:
FRANKS: We have to make sure that this president doesn’t lead us into a bad deal with Iran. I’m afraid that some of the rhetoric I’m hearing, you know that he says, “Well you know, we. …” talking about a peaceful nuclear program. If we’re not careful, and this is hyperbole, but it’s to demonstrate the point, this president could say “Well,” to Iran, “you can have all the nuclear warheads you want as long as you promise they’re for peaceful purposes.” And that’s my big concern that we could be led into a bad deal. So this bill is strengthen the president’s hand, or the U.S.’s negotiating position and to make sure that we have a sense of Congress out there about the points that should be in any agreement so that we don’t make a bad deal with Iran. A bad deal with Iran on nuclear weapons is worse than no deal at all.
Yes it is indeed hyperbole. No U.S. official, including Obama, has ever said that the U.S. should allow Iran to have nuclear weapons as long as Iran maintains they’re for peaceful purposes. The whole goal, as Obama pointed out just last month in his U.N. General Assembly speech, is to prevent Iran from getting nukes. “We are determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon,” Obama said.
“It’s hard to imagine a more counterproductive effort to slow the development of Iran’s nuclear program — especially when sanctions have succeeded in bringing the Iranians back to the negotiating table,” a Congressional aide told Foreign Policy, referring to Franks’ bill. “This attempt to legislate the use of force in Iran is so far out of the mainstream that it makes [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu look like a bleeding heart peacenik in comparison.”