The Edmond Sun

State News

November 26, 2013

Lankford wary of Iran negotiations

EDMOND — An historic agreement that Secretary of State John Kerry has made with Iran concerning its nuclear enrichment program drew concern from Congressman James Lankford. Lankford spoke Tuesday at a town hall meeting at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Kerry said Tuesday that the United States will work toward reaching a final comprehensive agreement that ensures Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon. An initial agreement stipulates that Iran’s current nuclear program must be peaceful, Kerry said.

“And that has to be absolutely verifiable,” Kerry said.

Diplomacy always should be used to avoid a war by resolving an issue, Lankford said.

“But my real concern on this issue with Iran is we’re going to release some of the sanctions, and release about $7 billion back into Iran for the promise of future action in Iran,” Lankford said. “Iran has not been good in keeping promises of future action.”

Iran will be allowed to repatriate about $4.2 billion in oil revenues and will be allowed to export about $2.5 billion in petrochemicals and vehicles.

Once the $7 billion has been released, the countries interested in doing business with Iran will line up to attempt breaking through the next barrier of sanctions, Lankford said.

“Now let me tell you what this first step does not do, because some people are putting out some misinformation on it and I want it to be clear,” Kerry said. “It does not lift the current architecture of our sanctions. Our sanctions are basically banking and oil sanctions, and those sanctions will stay in place.”

All the core sanctions on financial services will remain, Kerry said. Iran will face tougher sanctions if the agreement falls apart, he said.

Lankford warned that Iran is the primary sponsor of the Syrian government. A release of money to Iran likely will be funneled to Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations, Lankford said.

The biggest problem with the agreement is there is no language to remove Iran’s centrifuge program, Lankford said. Iran can continue to enrich uranium under the agreement, Lankford said.

“… We know what they want to get to is a bomb,” Lankford continued.

Most of the countries in the world that have peaceful nuclear power do not produce their own uranium. There are five countries willing to sell nuclear power to Iran.

“There is no inherit right to enrich for a country that is actively involved in the leadership level of terrorism all around the world,” Lankford said.

Iran’s stockpile of already 20-percent enriched uranium will be eliminated, Kerry said. Iran’s centrifuge program will be kept in its current state, Kerry said. This agreement stops Iran from utilizing their most advanced centrifuges, Kerry added.

International inspections will verify what Iran is doing in their nuclear program in compliance with the deal, Kerry said. Verification will ensure that Iran will not be using these facilities as negotiations continue, Kerry said.

Iranian born Christina Hendrickson said she had to escape Iran to save her life. A human rights activist, Hendrickson is the human physiology lab coordinator in the Department of Biology at UCO.

“If silence about human rights is part of the deal, how can you help us put pressure on the Iranian government to stop violence against its own people,” Hendrickson said. “I’m Kurdish and while they were talking in Geneva for the first round of negotiation, the government executed three political prisoners in the Kurdish area.”

The United States should be applying more pressure to help the Kurdish people, Lankford said. Nations want to trade with the U.S. So pressure could be placed on China and Vietnam with trade agreements.

“The way you trade with us is human rights,” Lankford said.

Detained American pastor Saeed Abedini’s name has not been mentioned in negotiations with Iran, Lankford said. The congressman has sent multiple letters to Kerry and Obama asking them to include Abedini’s release in all negotiations with Iran.

“When we never bring it up, they just assume it doesn’t matter to us,” Lankford said.

Hendrickson said that she and other Kurdish people have left messages for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Facebook asking him to take care of his own people.

“They just ignored us,” Hendrickson said.

Lankford pointed out that Rouhani is not the Supreme Leader of Iran. That distinction is reserved for Ali Khamenei, Lankford said.

“So all the folks that say everything has changed in Iran — no it hasn’t,” Lankford said. “… The direction of Iran has not changed. Only the language of conversation has changed.”

jcoburn@edmondsun.com | 341-2121

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