Washington D.C.House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement at today’s hearing on Iran’s nuclear program:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I would like to join you in thanking our witnesses for appearing here today.

“Since 1979, with very few exceptions, Iran has played a negative role in the Middle East and the world. That much is clear. We can all agree on the nature of the Iranian regime.  But as bad as Iran has been, an Iran with a nuclear weapon would be far worse. 

“I applaud the Administration for helping to build an international coalition to address Iran’s nuclear program.  UN resolutions and European Union sanctions, coupled with sanctions imposed by this and prior Congresses, have finally brought Iran to the table.  We should all be proud of this progress and support the negotiations that these sanctions and years of Congressional, presidential, and internationals efforts have finally brought about.

“At the same time, we should not be naïve.  The interim deal with Iran, the Joint Plan of Action, has delayed some aspects of the Iranian nuclear program while negotiations on a long-term deal continue.  Like many others, I believe it will be extremely hard to reach an acceptable long-term deal, but we have to try. A negotiated settlement, even if it is not perfect, is much better than the options if talks fail. 

“We should remember that an honest, unimpeded effort to reach a negotiated settlement to constrain the Iranian nuclear program is the best way to maintain international support.  If the United States is perceived to have negotiated in bad faith or undermined attempts to find a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, we will lose the support of allies and friends and the international community in the event that we have to more aggressive steps.

“Negotiations are clearly the preferable way to address our concerns with Iran and the nuclear program.  We need to try to reach a negotiated settlement that resolves our concerns and those of our regional and international partners and allies.  I hope our panel can help us think through what those concerns are and what we need to look for in any agreement. 

“There is also the, unfortunately strong, possibility that we will not be able to reach an agreement with the Iranians in the 6-month period of the Joint Plan of Action.  In that case, should the United States agree to an extension?  If so, should we impose additional conditions on the negotiations or just continue the JPOA as written?  Are congressional resolutions helpful or harmful in this? 

“Finally, how should we think about next steps if negotiations fail altogether? How much time do we have before Iran could have a bomb?  What should we be doing and what courses of actions should we consider?  I think our panel is very qualified to help us think through these issues.

“Again, I would like to thank the witnesses for appearing here today.  I yield back.”