Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is weighing a possible run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, said on Monday that if he attains the White House one of his first official acts will be to rescind President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran.
Perry gave what his staff called a major speech on national security Monday at the Citadel in South Carolina. In advance of the speech, Perry talked with reporters about his views on Obama’s and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy and what he would do to change it. Atop his agenda, he said, is getting rid of the deal that the Obama administration is negotiating with the Iranian regime, a framework for which was announced last week.
Perry said the deal enables rather than prevents a nuclear Iran, and will further destabilize the Middle East by creating a regional competition for nuclear weapons.
“No agreement is better than a bad agreement,” Perry said.
Asked what he would do after scuttling the deal to stop Iran from getting the bomb, Perry said he would seek to further cripple Iran’s economy, undermine the Iranian regime by increasing support for its internal opposition, and then rely on military strikes to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities if necessary.
“The message needs to be, as soon as that election result comes in in November of 2016, any agreement between the president of the United States and the ayatollah is a worthless piece of paper,” he said.
The U.S. should then work with Israel and America’s Arab allies to increase pressure on Iran’s economy, he said, with airstrikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities as a last resort. “The Israelis have dealt with this twice, to take out their ability to use their nuclear facilities, and that certainly is an option that needs to be on the table,” he said.
Perry’s comments put him in line with last month’s letter to Iranian leaders – written by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, and signed by 47 Republican senators – warning that any deal Iran signs with the Obama administration won’t last past Obama’s presidency.
By pledging to end the deal, Perry is going further than potential 2016 GOP rivals such as Jeb Bush who have criticized the deal but not said exactly what they would do about it if elected. “Nothing in the deal described by the administration this afternoon would justify lifting U.S. and international sanctions, which were the product of many years of bipartisan effort,” Bush said last week. “I cannot stand behind such a flawed agreement.”
There can be no real progress with Iran so long as that country continues exporting terrorism and oppressing its own people, Perry told reporters on Monday’s conference call. He said the U.S. should sell crude oil on the international market to further cripple the Iranian economy. He said there should be a more expansive covert program to support Iranian dissidents and opposition to the ayatollahs and the Iranian regime.
In his call with reporters, Perry criticized Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state and said that she shares responsibility for Obama’s foreign-policy failures. “She’s either going to have to stand up and say ‘I was a complete and utter failure as secretary of state,’ or she’s going to have to take ownership of these issues,” Perry said. “I think you are going to find a secretary of state who is going to be looked upon as a failure.”
Perry said Clinton did not stand up for Israel while she was a top Cabinet official.
“Our oldest friend and most vibrant democracy in the Middle East, Israel, is being put in jeopardy and she was part of that,” he said.