Vice President Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor Colin Kahl gave an impassioned defense of the Iran deal days before Senate Democrats blocked a Republican-led effort to kill the nuclear accord.
“It’s a good deal. It will make us safer. It will make our allies in the region, including Israel, safer and it will make the world safer,” said Kahl at a Sept. 8 event in Arlington.
The interfaith program was cosponsored by Reconstructionist congregation Kol Ami and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington. White House Jewish liaison Matt Nosanchuk also spoke for the deal on behalf of the administration. Michael Eisenstadt, Kahn fellow and director of the Washington Institute’s Military and Security Studies Program, countered with a skeptical view of the deal. Don Kraus, founder and former president of Kol Ami, who is a senior fellow at Citizens for Global Solutions, moderated the panel.
Kahl reiterated the administration’s contention that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action puts in place the most intrusive verification and transparency measures of any arms control nonproliferation agreement in history.
“The uranium path, plutonium path and covert path are closed off over the long term under this agreement,” said Kahl. “It significantly and verifiably blocks Iran’s pathways to the bomb.”
However, Eisenstadt was not as confident that the deal would achieve its intended outcome of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, saying that the situation becomes “murky” after parts of the deal expire in 15 years.
“This is a very complex agreement. And the fact of the matter is that we do not know how this will unfold in the future and it is possible at the end of the day that Iran ends with sanctions lifted, tens or hundreds of billions of dollars, and maybe 15, 20 years down the road with a bomb as well if they play their cards right,” warned Eisenstadt.
A representative from Jewish Voice for Peace, an ADL-listed anti-Israel group that supports the Iran deal, asked Kahl if there was going to be a quid pro quo with more military support for Israel that he said Israel doesn’t need and that would be used “for bad things.”
Shooting down the idea of a quid pro quo, Kahl called the support for Israel by this administration “ironclad” and said the historically high levels of military and security funding and coordination would continue with or without the Iran deal.
Kahl said he has been to Israel 15 times in the last three years, talking to more than a hundred senior IDF, security and political officials.
“If you talk to a lot of people in the current defense, security and intelligence apparatus in Israel — they are much more comfortable with this deal than the political leadership is.”