Yes, Congress can amend Obama's Iran sellout
The constitution of the United States is actually a pretty well-written document. According to Mark Dubowitz, it would allow Congress to amend what most Americans see as a very bad deal with Iran
There is ample precedent to amend the deal. Congress has required amendments
to more than 200 treaties before receiving Senate consent, including
significant bilateral Cold War arms control agreements with the Soviets
like the Threshold Test Ban Treaty and the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions
Treaty, as well as multilateral agreements like the Chemical Weapons
Convention negotiated with 87 participating countries, including Iran, by President Bill Clinton. And it’s not just Republicans putting up obstacles. During
the Cold War, Democratic senators like Henry Jackson withstood pressure
from Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger who insisted that the deals they
negotiated go unchanged. This all happened at a time when Moscow had thousands of nuclear-tipped missiles aimed at America.
Should Congress follow in this proud tradition and disapprove of the
Iran deal, there are three possible scenarios. Each presents challenges.
But each is preferable to this fatally flawed agreement.
The power of U.S. financial sanctions always depended on the private
sector’s appetite for risk. In the event of a congressional disapproval,
or a vote in which a simple majority of senators reject the deal, major
European companies likely will hold off on investment until a new
president comes into office in 2017. They will also be concerned about
the legal and reputational risk of doing business with Iran’s Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps (who dominate strategic sectors of Iran’s
economy like finance, energy, construction, and automotive and will
still be designated a proliferation sponsor by the United States).
Treasury has already issued
guidance that international companies should be very circumspect before
reentering the Revolutionary Guards-dominated Iranian market.
This leverage can be used to get a better deal, one that would
require that nuclear, arms, and ballistic missile restrictions don’t
sunset until the U.N. Security Council (where America retains its veto)
votes to lift them. It would remove the Iranian nuclear snap back
language and include Tehran’s explicit acknowledgement that sanctions
can be reimposed for terrorism, human rights abuses, ICBM development,
and on other non-nuclear grounds. It also would include other changes
like the requirement that IAEA weapons inspectors physically enter and thoroughly investigate any suspect military or non-military site, something U.S. lead negotiator Wendy Sherman said in a recent congressional hearing will not always be necessary because soil sampling carried out by Iran will be sufficient.
It won’t be easy getting changes to the deal as it now
stands. It will require additional leverage. But the United States will
never again have the kind of powerful secondary sanctions leverage that
it does today. Congress now has an opportunity to ensure that we
maintain and use that power. The aim should not be to torpedo diplomacy.
Rather, it is to defuse that ticking time bomb by making
critical amendments to this Iran deal that lower the risk of a future
Jennifer Rubin adds
Dubowitz does not consider the potential that Iran will race to
breakout — and for good reason. Iran’s participation in the talks shows
us that Iran wants to get the bomb without risking its regime (by
military strength). So long as it can cajole the West, keep its
infrastructure in place and rebuild its economy, it can be patient. If
it would try to make a dash, it would face the threat of military action
from Israel, and theoretically from the United States. Iran was not
willing to pursue that risky proposition and with the potential to get
partial sanctions relief, there is no reason to believe it would do so.
Ironically, “war” (as in “this deal or war”) is the most far-fetched
As Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) argues today,
if the deal goes into effect, we will be in a much worse position in
five or 10 years than we are now. “We have more leverage than we will
ever have, but under this deal that leverage will flip in approximately
nine months, when most major sanctions are relieved. Iran will further
deepen its regional strength,” he argues. “Unfortunately, the agreement
ties our hands in countering Iran’s efforts. If we try to push back,
Iran will threaten to speed up its nuclear development since it already
will have a windfall of money, a rapidly growing economy and alliances
built with our partners, who will feast on the mercantile benefits of
doing business with Iran.” In other words, the deal does not buy us
time; it forfeits our leverage and increases Iran’s hegemonic ambitions
and determination to get its bomb (even if it has to wait 10 years).
Doing the deal, then,
is the risky proposition — by increasing violence in the region in the
short term and practically ensuring major military conflict down the
road (sanctions won’t be available) with a stronger and more confident
Iran. Not doing the deal is the safe move — for it keeps our
leverage, allowing for more effective coercive diplomacy by the next
president. Most important, it would begin the process of reassuring our
Sunni and Israeli allies that we intend to push back on Iran, a
necessary precondition for limiting Iran’s influence and, not
coincidentally, also instilling confidence in the war against the
Too bad Corker is the guy who led the surrender of Congress' treaty power. That would have made rejecting this deal a whole lot easier.
Labels: Barack Hussein Obama, Bob Corker, European Union, Iran Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran sanctions regime, Iranian nuclear threat, P 5+1