Editor’s note: This is the third of a three-part series detailing US Sen. James Lankford’s Tuesday community town hall at the Ardmore Convention Center.

Two final items Sen. James Lankford (R-5th Dist.) discussed Tuesday had to do with the threats posed to the United States from foreign powers, in particular threats from Iran and Russia. When asked about the current situation with Iran, Sen. Lankford said, “The president has two big frustrations with the deal President Obama made with Iran. One is it didn’t deal with their terrorism; it only dealt with trying to develop a nuclear weapon. It didn’t even slow down their state-sponsored terrorist activities. Iran is still the largest state sponsor of terrorist activities in the world. Hamas does not exist without Iran. Hezbollah does not exist without Iran’s everyday financing.”
Lankford said Iran was a major factor in destabilization across the Middle East, threatening their neighbors, United State’s allies, and even oil prices.
“The second thing the president wants to do is take away the “sunset” that was in the original agreement,” Lankford said. “The way the president (Obama) set it up was that there would be 10 years where Iran would have supervision. Everyone assumes that means that on year 11, they could begin working on a nuclear weapon. The president says there is no year 11. Iran cannot have a nuclear weapon while they are financing terrorism and while they threaten their neighbors.”
He went on to say that while “everyone agrees with this philosophically,” other nations would prefer to keep the deal that is in place and simply add an addendum that  prevents Iran from working on a nuclear weapon. Lankford said that the president (Trump) does not like this idea because the more time passes, the less leverage the United States has over the situation. He said the president wants to pull the current deal now instead of waiting until the eighth or ninth year when Iran could gain the upper hand in negotiations.
An audience question focused on election security in regards to Russian interference. Lankford responded by saying this falls into two categories. One category concerns how the Russians have been interfering by sowing division within the United States stretching back for years. The second category concerns attempts to hack into various state election systems.
“The goal of the Russians, they can’t compete with our economy, they can’t compete with our military, but they can try to bring everyone else down,” Lankford said. “They are in the process of trying to create chaos everywhere that’s stronger than them, which is just about everywhere. So they started coming after us in 2014 with a lot of different messages. Racial messages, gender messages, a lot of religious messages where they would find people with opposing views, would develop networks around those opposing views, and then try to get them to attack each other.”
“The election was just one part of that. But if you saw the Russian interference and how many posts they were doing, that number spiked after the election. The election was just one of the many vehicles they were using on social media to try to stir the American people to fight.”
Lankford said the second part of the interference is hacking. He said that at least 21 states, including Oklahoma, became targets for the Russians.
“They wanted to determine how do we use our software, how we post our election results,” Lankford said. “Can they get to our voter rolls? Can they get to our voter machines?” Here he said Oklahomans can be proud.
“The Russians were not able to penetrate our system. They literally came to a locked door, checked it, couldn’t get through it, and moved on to another state. That’s a good sign for our I.T. folks. I know that sometimes we feel like in Oklahoma where are we winning? Well, we beat the Russians. So there’s at least one.”
Lankford said other states were not so lucky, and the Russians were able to get into their systems, with five states that cannot audit their election results because they are entirely electronic. He said the system we use in Oklahoma has been “exceptionally reliable” because if there is any question about the results from the optical scanners, we still have the paper ballots that can be physically counted.