WASHINGTON — Outspoken conservative Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is warning that a $50 billion signing bonus that could be a part of the U.S. State Department's nuclear agreement with Iran will likely be used to fund terrorist organizations that attack Americans and other Westerners.
The 44-year-old 2016 presidential candidate was interviewed via satellite video by Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens at the Christians United For Israel conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday. Cruz asserted that terms of the agreement (which was announced Tuesday morning after the interview and aims to gradually lift crippling economic sanctions off of Iran in exchange for curbs to the Islamic Republic's nuclear activity) must be strong and added that agreeing to weak terms with Iran could spell disaster.
It was reported earlier this year that the State Department was considering the idea of offering a $50 billion signing bonus to the Islamic Republic for signing the agreement, but Cruz argues that money would — with "absolute certainty" — fund worldwide terrorism.
"One component [of this deal] I understand is a $50 billion signing bonus of frozen assets that would flow into Iran. That money, we know to an absolute certainty would be used to fund Hezbollah, Hamas, and radical Islamic terrorists throughout the Middle East, throughout Latin America and the world," Cruz stated. "That money would be used to murder Americans, Europeans, Israelis. This deal, if it is consummated, would transform the United States government into being one of the leading financiers funding terrorism against Americans."
"It makes no sense what-so-ever and we are going to have over the next couple of months a serious debate over the Iran deal," Cruz continued. "It is my hope that the American people will rise up. I would give a call of action of the men and women of CUFI that It is critical that each and everyone of us reach out and highlight the threat."
Tuesday morning reports were that the deal actually included a unlocking assests twice as large as Cruz suspected — $100 billion, according to RT.com.
The agreement will now go to Congress for vote of approval. Cruz warned that the only acceptable agreement is one that guarantees that that the Islamic Republic disassembles its 19,000 centrifuges, hands over its enriched uranium, shuts down its intercontinental ballistic missile program and ceases being a state sponsor of terror. However, Congress will likely need enough votes to override President Barack Obama's likely veto in order to effectively prevent the deal.
Cruz stressed that given Iran's radical Shiia ideology, any deal that gives Iran access to a nuclear weapon would end up in nuclear attacks on Israel and even the United States. Cruz reminded the audience that on Friday, Iran celebrated al-Quds Day, a holiday where Iranians celebrate the "their goal of the annihilation of Israel."
"[Israel] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu highlights this deal as an existential threat. He is not referring to a Frenchman in an all-black beret chain smoking. He means that literally it would go to the existence of Israel because Iran with a nuclear weapon could well use that nuclear weapon over the skies of Tel Aviv or New York or Los Angeles," Cruz contended. "In the next couple of months, each of us need to reach out to our elected officials and put as much pressure as possible on the people."
Netanyahu labeled the deal a "bad mistake" and argued that this deal frees up billions for Iran to spend on terrorism.
"Iran will get a jackpot, a cash bonanza of hundreds of billions of dollars, which will enable it to continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region and in the world," Netanyahu said. "Iran is going to receive a sure path to nuclear weapons."
Cruz criticized President Barack Obama for wanting to reach an agreement with Iran simply because he feels it would do wonders for his presidential legacy.
"The truth of the matter is that Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and President Obama are all perfectly fine with Iran having a nuclear weapon. The inevitable outcome of this deal is either one of two things will happen. Either Iran will acquire nuclear weapons or there will be military conflict. This hardy deal makes military conflict more likely," Cruz argued. "This is what the administration doesn't understand. They believe in appeasement. It's like they really ought to be conducting these negotiations in Munich and come back promising peace for our time. Appeasement doesn't work. I believe in peace through strength."
In order for Congress to override the president's likely veto, it is likely to require a handful of Democratic members of Congress voting against the Democratic administration's agenda.
"Here's the real problem, the question is going to be the Democrats in the Senate and Democrats in the House, is their partisan loyalty so great that they are willing to rubberstamp a horrible deal that endangers Israel and endangers national security?" Cruz asked. "That is what the Obama White House is counting on — that there will be loyal Democrats that sign off on the deal regardless of their obligations to their constituencies. CUFI is going to be front and center making sure everyone knows the magnitude of the threat that this deal poses."