Santa Barbara County Young Republicans held a roundtable briefing and a luncheon on Sunday at the Montecito Country Club to discuss criticisms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, followed by a rally at Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens.
On July 14, the United States along with China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany, successfully reached a nuclear program agreement with Iran. The agreement took over 20 months to negotiate and aims to curb Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for the lifting of financial and international oil sanctions. The deal faced controversy from its inception, and critics claim it offers too much power to Iran and creates an unstable international agreement for the U.S. The U.S Congress is currently reviewing the deal over a 60-day period, set to end Sept. 17. During Sunday’s event, six speakers delivered speeches and held Q&A sessions challenging the Iran nuclear deal.
Tom Trento serves as director of The United West, an organization whose mission is to defend and advance Western Civilization against the kinetic and cultural onslaught of Sharia, or Islamic law, and began the event by presenting nine “red-line” non-negotiable items needed for a successful nuclear agreement with Iran. The conditions included a promise of no uranium enrichment, Iranian release of all U.S. prisoners and the lifting of sanctions in stages as Iran demonstrates compliance.
Vice President of the Research and Analysis Center for Security Policy and retired CIA Operations Officer Clare Lopez said the U.S. cannot entirely trust Iran in developing a nuclear agreement.
“Right off the bat, we’ve got our leadership negotiating with a leadership of Iran that believes its religious duty is to lie to us,” Lopez said. “So, from the very beginning of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, which began in the 1980s under the Ayatollah Khomeini, the program was clandestine, it was secret, for about 14 years.”
According to Lopez, Iran is unreliable because of its violation of The Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, an international agreement created in 1970 to prevent the spread of nuclear weapon technology and promote cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
“Iran had been lying and violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty,” Lopez said. “The actual Iranian nuclear weapons program moved literally underground. It moved into mountains, bunkers, tunnels, and it was dispersed around the country.”
Former jailed Iranian dissident, current Secretary General of the Confederation of Iranian Students and President of the Iranian Freedom Institute Amir Fakhravar said the audience should recognize the Iran nuclear deal is problematic.
“It doesn’t matter what side we are on … this is wrong,” Fakhravar said.
According to Ryan Mauro, national security analyst for the Clarion Project, the Iran nuclear deal is a means to strengthen the Iranian regime rather than empower the Iranian people. The Clarion Project is an organization campaigning against Islamic extremism.
“The Iranian regime will never sign a deal that undermines itself,” Mauro said.
Screenwriter and Israel Defense Forces Reserves Captain Dan Gordon said the deal is “disastrous,” as it fails to address the issue of ballistic missiles.
“By the end of this deal, if they don’t lie, if they don’t cheat on the deal, they will have an arsenal of 200 nuclear warheads to put on their intercontinental ballistic missiles,” Capt. Gordon said.
The final speaker of the briefing, Executive Director of The Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business (COLAB) Andy Caldwell, said the Iranian regime is “dangerous” and the “largest purveyor of state-sponsored terrorism in the world this day.”
Following the discussion, speakers and audience members rallied at Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens, chanting “Kill the deal. Stop Iran.”
UC Santa Barbara physics professor Philip Lubin said attendees should “educate themselves” on the deal.
“I’m sure all of us here today want to see a better and more just world,” Lubin said. “It’s not the Iranian people we have an argument against, it is not they we wish to disagree with. They can be our friends and allies, but we have to strive to embrace their need for freedom, and to throw off their shackles of oppression.”
Representative for the 24th District of California Congresswoman Lois Capps said in a statement she supports the JCPOA despite opposition to the deal.
“After careful consideration, I have decided to support the JCPOA because it is the best way forward to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and advance the national security interests of the United States and our allies,” Capps said.
Capps said she was convinced the JCPOA is the best option to curtail Iran’s nuclear program after meeting with several other officials.
“The JCPOA will ensure that Iran will not have the materials or the capability to build a nuclear weapon and extend the breakout time for building a nuclear bomb from two or three months as it currently stands to at least a year,” Capps said in a statement.