By SAM NUNN and RICHARD LUGAR
as all of these presidents – Democratic and Republican – understood,
holding out for the impossible is a recipe for no progress at all.
Congress should take the same approach today to the Iran nuclear deal.
- At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union had thousands of
nuclear warheads aimed at American cities, and the Soviets were subject
to numerous arms controls agreements. But progress was hard-fought and
incremental at best. In an ideal world, the Soviet Union would have
agreed to more severe constraints than those agreed by Presidents
Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush, for example. It would
have dismantled all of its nuclear weapons, stopped its human rights
abuses and halted its meddling around the world.
know something about the long history of such agreements. During our
combined 60 years in the U.S. Senate, we participated in countless
meetings, hearings and trips around the globe focused on reducing the
threats posed by weapons of mass destruction. The centerpiece of our
efforts was the Nunn-Lugar Act, passed in 1991, which was the basis for
two decades of hard work that resulted in the safeguarding and
deactivation of more than 7,000 nuclear warheads, hundreds of missiles
and bombers, and numerous other elements of the former Soviet Union’s
WMD programs. These experiences underscored for us that arms
control agreements are rarely finished absolutes. Inevitably, their
success depends on many factors that play out after the agreement is
signed, including alliance cohesion, congressional funding for
implementation and the political will of the parties to ensure
verification and enforcement.
Over the next several weeks, every
member of Congress will have the opportunity to weigh the terms of the
nuclear agreement against all viable alternatives. In our view, the key
questions regarding this agreement are: Will it stop Iran from obtaining
a nuclear weapon? What are the risks of going forward with this
agreement? And what are the risks if Congress rejects the agreement?