The threat of a nuclear Iran places the United States and countries in the Middle East in an even more precarious situation, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. told the NEA Political Animals club meeting Friday.
Cotton, who recently returned from a 10-day trip to Asia where he toured South Korea and Taipei, spoke to the group at the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce office on Nettleton Avenue.
Cotton said he had an opportunity Sunday to tour the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea, as well as met a South Korean soldier whose legs were blown off by a bomb made by North Korea.
As for Iran, Cotton said the proposed agreement between the United States and Iran over the issue of nuclear weapons will empower the Iranians.
Cotton said the Iranians would receive nearly $150 billion in assets that were seized, while also allowing the country to sell oil on the open world market.
The change is dangerous, Cotton said.
“They will not spend it (the $150 billion) on a YMCA, a medical clinic or a soccer field,” Cotton said. “They might, but I doubt it. They will spend it on terrorism.”
The influence of Iran has been prevalent in the past several years in the region, Cotton said, noting Iran has served as the “number one patron for Assad (in Syria)” and “control Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut.”
Cotton said he was concerned with other aspects of the agreement, which is expected to be voted on in the Senate in mid-September.
Among the issues are a side agreement to allow Iran to self-inspect its nuclear sites, including by videotape.
“It could be the Blair Witch Inspection Process,” Cotton said, comparing it to the 1999 movie. “Especially with the grainy video.”
Comparing Iran to North Korea, Cotton said the United States had a similar agreement with North Korea in 1994.
Twelve years later, a nuclear bomb was tested, Cotton said.
Cotton said he believes that the House and Senate will overwhelmingly turn down the agreement with Iran, with President Obama vetoing the act.
However, Cotton said he does not know if both houses would get the two-thirds vote to override a veto.
Another issue is how the deal was presented to Congress, Cotton said.
“The President did not structure this as a treaty, but as an executive agreement,” Cotton said. “If this is not a treaty, I don’t know what is.”
Cotton answered several questions from the audience and spoke to the press after the event.
As for talk of a possible vice-presidential run, Cotton said it was early in the campaign cycle and that he has not made a decision on who he will endorse for the Republican nomination.
“We have a lot of good candidates, some I know personally. I have not made a commitment. But I have made an endorsement. I endorse Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee,” Cotton said.
As for the impact that candidates like Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina have had so far, Cotton said each have resonated with voters because of their lack of Washington experience.
Also, Cotton said he supports creating a strong cyber security bill in light of recent information breaches involving websites like Ashley Madison.com, several businesses and the federal Office of Personnel Management.
Any bill in the Senate would likely go through the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Cotton serves as a member, and could be approved by the end of the year.
The next Northeast Arkansas Political Animals Club meeting will have a blue-tinge to it.
Arkansas Democratic Party chairman Vince Insalaco will speak at the club’s Sept. 18 meeting in Jonesboro, the club’s co-chairs, Republican Andrea Allen and Democrat L.J. Bryant, said Friday.