BRUNSWICK — U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin has been misleading Mainers about the agreement to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program. “It puts Iran on a path to nuclear weapons,” he told Bangor radio station WVOM.

Poliquin either does not understand what he is talking about or is being deliberately deceptive. Refusing to reach this agreement, as his opposition suggests, would have led us down the path he warns against – a nuclear Iran (which no one wants), or a full-scale war between the United States and Iran.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is one of the toughest, most intrusive, most constraining crackdowns on a nuclear program the world has ever seen. It brought a dead halt to the Iranian program, eliminated the bulk of the Iranian capacity to enrich uranium to weapons-grade or to create plutonium, and put the Iranian regime on notice about its future actions. According to the Arms Control Association, the agreement has:

 Dismantled more than 13,000 Iranian centrifuges and ended enrichment activities at the Natanz and Fordow facilities.

 Forcibly taken away most of Iran’s uranium stockpile.

 Closed the Arak heavy water reactor, which could have been used to produce plutonium for nuclear warheads; it has been dismantled and the channels filled with concrete.

• Created a verification regime with continuous surveillance.

• Brought together the United States, France, the United Kingdom, China, Russia and the European Union to stand against Iran.

This deal grinds the Iranian nuclear program to a halt and has built-in safeguards should the Iranians cheat.

Poliquin says he wants to “stop this oppressive regime … to (sic) become a nuclear military power – ever.” Well, that’s what we all want: an Iran that is permanently blocked from ever getting a nuclear weapon. But his bluster on this issue would not lead to that goal, just the opposite. Let’s look at the parallel universe Poliquin would create by refusing this deal.

If Poliquin had his wish, there would have been only two other ways for things to go. The first alternative reality would see Iran moving ahead toward nuclear weapons at an accelerated pace. This alternative Poliquin world would mean:

• The Natanz and Fordow enrichment plants are operating full bore. The Iranians have 19,000 centrifuges.

• Iran has its full stock of enriched uranium, enough for three warheads by next year.

• The Arak plutonium reactor is going full blast, producing enough plutonium to make two more warheads each year.

• The U.K. and France have broken with the U.S. and are negotiating their own, weaker deal with Iran. China and Russia are probably aiding the Iranians with technology exports and shared expertise.

Would Poliquin’s alternative world have brought the U.S. greater security? No. Would it be more secure for Europe? For Israel? Clearly not.

So if he doesn’t want a nuclear Iran and he doesn’t like the nuclear deal, maybe he prefers Option Two: a U.S.-Israeli military strike on Iran to eliminate their nuclear program. Maybe someone should ask him.

But beware of what you wish for. Such a strike would only temporarily set back the Iranian nuclear program. To make a non-nuclear Iran permanent, a full-scale military invasion would be needed.

Is Poliquin ready for that war? Our allies would refuse to join in, taxpayers would foot an enormous bill, and the body bags would start to arrive at Dover, as we begin yet another Middle East conflict on a scale even larger than Iraq in a country with a capable military, uneven terrain and a lot more people.

Bottom line: No agreement is perfect, but this was our best option. It stops the program in its tracks and opens the door to more progress down the road.

Poliquin’s attack on the Iran deal is ill-informed, and his alternatives are a disaster. His recent bluster, and a proposed bill that would disclose the financial holdings of the Iranian leadership, would not change this reality; it would only take resources away from real enforcement and expose our secret intelligence-gathering resources, methods and conclusions to the Iranians.

Welcome to the real world, Mr. Poliquin. This agreement lays the groundwork for a much safer world and a more secure America. It doesn’t solve every problem, but it takes one set of contentious issues off the table, forces Iran to verify its compliance and lets us focus on the next set of regional issues.

Pretty good for the real world. What world does Bruce Poliquin want to live in?


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