Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen joins host Frank Gaffney on Secure Freedom Radio to discuss the recent nuclear negotiations with Iran, as well as concession given to the Castro brothers in Cuba.
Frank Gaffney: A woman who has been in the front lines of the war for the Free World in the United States Congress for a very long time, representing the people of the 27th district of Florida with great distinction is our first guest. She is congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. She is the Chairman Emeritus of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and currently serves as the Chairman of a very important subcommittee of that committee, the Middle East and North Africa subcommittee. She also serves on the House Rules Committee; she is always a welcome guest here. Ileana thank you very for taking the time to join us
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: Thank you so much Frank, it’s a delight to be on your program
FG: Well the delight is ours especially because of course you are really, very much at the forefront of the fight that is coming over this deal President Obama is conjuring up with the Iranians. I say conjuring up because I have the feeling that anything that’s real about it is going to be very bad and a lot of the things that are supposed to be good about it are going to be figments of our imagination, or at least his. Give us a sense of your view of the agreement, as it’s shaping up and the advisability of the United States going among with it
IRL: I’m very pessimistic about our ability to get a strong agreement. The only good deal is one in which Iran cease all enrichment, one in which Iran dismantles its nuclear infrastructure. And frank, once upon a time that was what we were going to do. That’s the best way to ensure that Iran won’t be able to create a nuclear weapon, ever. If a deal is signed based on this framework agreement, what does that mean? It’s going to allow Iran keep in place every key element of its nuclear infrastructure, it’s going to preserve its stockpile of enriched uranium, it’s going to keep its equipment and research and development program. Not only is this agreement a significant step back from what the UN Security Council and the world powers were demanding from Iran just a few years ago, but it’s significantly weaker than even what the president stated a year and a half ago. Remember when he said ‘they don’t need to have an underground facility in Fordow’, well guess what, Fordow remains. Obama said ‘they don’t need a heavy water reactor at arak’, well Iran continues with the capacity to produce and store heavy water. Obama said ‘they don’t need some of the advanced centrifuges’, well guess what, Iran is going to continue to operate and test these centrifuges. What about their ballistic missile program? Its going to continue and peruse this program unimpeded, that means they will be capable of carrying this nuclear structure all across Europe, Israel, the United States. One upon a time, the president said ‘oh yes, Iran is going to comply, it must comply with the UN Security Council resolution’. Well, Iran is allowed to ignore past resolutions, it’s going to continue uranium enrichment. This deal is so bad, it is worse than what people can imagine
FG: Yeah and you know it’s funny, bizarre is I guess a better way to put it, that the deal which you’ve described, bad as it was back in April in this sort of framework context, has become even worse in the intervening period. With further concessions having been made in so many different areas
FG: I guess this brings us to the heart of the matter, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, you’re a former Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee. What is the view on the Hill at the moment in terms of whether congress will actually turn down this deal for all the reasons you’ve mentioned, and more?
IRL: Well we need the public support and I hope that programs like yours Frank, with the intelligence that you have, the capability to communicate clearly and in an articulate manner to your listeners what this deal means to them. Why should we care about a weak deal? You should care very deeply. So we depend on the grassroots to tell some of our weaker members, to give them the courage to say ‘No’; because what the administration is saying, what Obama is saying, is ‘you’re either for this deal or you want to go to war’. That is false choice; there are many unanswered questions on this deal. What about the possible military dimension? The framework agreement has no mention whatsoever of the military facilities. Remember, Rouhani and Khameni have said ‘oh no, you can’t inspect any of the military sites’, well if are not going to inspect those site, I’ll give you one guess as to where the cheating will be happening if that becomes part of the deal. Also, the signing bonus we’ve been hearing these rumors, is it true they are going to get 50 billion dollars before Iran even has to comply with anything. This is beyond irresponsible it’s incomprehensible. I worry that the only thing settled on is sanctions relief, we’re going to lift all sanctions on the day they sign the deal, it is unbelievable
FG: Well I guess they’re still, sort of, thrashing around on that, but whatever they are going to do, it’s already the case that billions of load to them and the sanctions arrangements are unraveling as we speak. I just want to emphasize a point that you made, Congresswoman; this is clearly a threat to America, not just our friends in Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East and Europe
IRL: I’m glad that you’re pointing that out because people are thinking ‘Oh this is a problem for our allies, the Democratic Jewish State of Israel’. Sure, it’s a problem for our U.S. national security interests abroad, sure. It is a problem for the United States of America, these threats are real and we’ve got to make sure that as unpleasant as it is to talk about, Iran is controlling four Arab capitals- Damascus, Baghdad, Beirut, and Sana’a. Do they think that this nuclear capability is not going to impact the United States of America? Of course. So this is a problem of our misplaced priorities from this administration, the failed policies in the region over the past few years. And of course it’s not our fault, this is Iran’s fault, but that’s the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Why are we going to give them money and loosen sanctions against the leading state sponsor of terrorism? It’s a problem for the United States security
FG: Yeah, I’m fond of saying, Congresswoman, that this would turn us into the largest state sponsor of terrorism because we would be providing these tens of billions of dollars to the Iranian regime. One other facet of this of course is the terrible negotiating tactics, or approach if you want to call it that, of the Obama administration and it’s much in evidence in another context with which you are also very much engaged, and that is the efforts of the Obama administration to normalize relations with the Castro brothers’ regime in Cuba. What’s your reading on how they’re doing with those negotiations and, again, the interests of the United States, are they being served by it or not?
IRL: Well it’s the same playbook that they’ve used on Iran; they’re using it on Cuba. Concessions to tyrannical regimes, to human rights abusers. This Sunday one of the leading human rights activists in Cuba, Antonio Rodiles, was beaten to a pulp because he was silently walking to the Catholic mass in order to call attention to the many political prisoners in Cuba’s jail. And while we’re negotiating, while we’re establishing diplomatic relations, the Cuban thugs of security forces are still beating up, pounding, persecuting, and jailing dissidents. So if that’s their behavior while we’re negotiating, can you imagine once this deal is in place? And again just like the Iran deal, it’s a secret deal. If these deals are so great, both in Iran and Cuba, let’s see it. Let’s give it to the public to view, let’s find out what the details are. We are in fact saying to Castro ‘You don’t have to do one change. You don’t to have change at all. We’re just going to lift all of these restrictions and you’re going to behave right?’ And of course he doesn’t. But it doesn’t matter; we’re just pleading with them ‘Will you take a yes? You don’t have to change a thing’
FG: ‘Will you allow us to give away this store?’
IRL: Absolutely, with no concessions whatsoever, neither with Iran nor with Cuba
FG: I hope that, as with your colleague across the Hill, Senator Marco Rubio, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, we will be watching, we will be seeing your leadership at work in hoping to stymie these steps, both on the Iran deal and on the Cuban effort
IRL: I hope so Frank, but we need the support of the public and I hope that your listeners will help us out on that
FG: I count on it. We’re going to do everything we can for sure and believe me, the sentiment of the American people, I think on both of these accounts, and more generally just the humiliation that the country is being subjected to as a result of this conduct
IRL: We look so weak. We ask all the thugs and we say ‘Hit me again’
FG: It only emboldens them, as you know so well, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and former chairwoman. Great to talk with you, we’ll do it again soon. In the meantime, be well