United States Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is interviewed by The Media Line’s President & CEO, Felice Friedson.
US Senate leader tells reporters in Jerusalem that Iran nuclear pact needs “guard rails” and clarity so Tehran knows what it is facing
Wasting no time anticipating the obvious question – why, with news cycles overwhelmed by Russia’s pending invasion of Ukraine, and Chinese salivation over Taiwan, did he choose to visit Israel – US Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC, told reporters in Jerusalem on Monday to imagine that Iran could create but one single nuclear weapon. “Where,” he asked, “would Tehran target? Washington? Israel? Riyadh?”
Graham was clear in his often-repeated assessment of the unfolding of international threats: there simply is no greater imperative facing the world than the need to place “guard rails” on Iran’s ability to fulfill its nuclear weapons quest. Once Tehran has crossed the nuclear threshold, not only is untold destruction in the hands of religiously extreme zealots capable to the point of being expected to use nuclear weapons against its enemies, but the nefarious achievement would trigger a nuclear arms race with every Sunni Muslim nation demanding its “rightful” nuclear inventory.
The senator reiterated his signature Middle East initiatives: the need for a formal defense treaty between the US and Israel; and the creation of a nuclear fuel bank as a mechanism for allowing the proliferation of nuclear power among nations whose use will be peaceful – if not by intent, as in Iran’s case, then by international control.
For Israel, a nuclear-capable Iran is a non-starter
Graham nodded toward bipartisanship in virtually each of his proposals, from his references to Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) who shares his South Carolina colleague’s confidence in the fuel bank. Asserting that legislators on both sides of the aisle can agree that nuclear weapons in Iranian hands are unacceptable, the challenge is to “work on articulation of what the red lines would look like” to provide Tehran with the “clarity needed to avoid conflict.”
Israel, he argues, does not lack clarity. “For Israel, a nuclear-capable Iran is a non-starter,” he said, adding his certainty that, for Jerusalem, war is the inevitable option under such circumstances. To that end, the Graham again called for the creation of an American-Israeli mutual defense treaty with a provision – à la NATO – that would provide, de jure, that “an attack on Israel is an attack on the US.”
Asked by The Media Line why he believes Israel’s government has been almost mute in voicing its objections to the American-led effort to reinvent the Iranian nuclear agreement, a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action version 2, Graham expressed confidence that the silence will end “in a matter of days.” Speaking in his role as a key lawmaker, he expressed his belief that lacking enough votes to pass as a treaty in the Senate, the new Iranian nuclear agreement could function only as an executive order, which would not survive the administration.
En route to his next stop – the United Arab Emirates, Graham complimented President Joe Biden for recognizing and building on the Abraham Accords, the series of normalization agreements between Israel and Sunni-majority Arab Gulf states.