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Senate GOP Warns Biden Administration: Any Nuclear 'Deal' With Iran Must Come to Congress

AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool

Last week, terrorism expert and longtime federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy asked why congressional Republicans were not being more aggressive and vocal about the Biden administration's rumored and disastrous impending giveaway to the Iranian regime – negotiated, of course, by the Russians. Thanks to those same Russians' decision to overplay their hand, I've been suggesting that the resulting disruption to what was looking like an inevitable conclusion to the process may represent a crucial opportunity to draw attention to, and build opposition against, the terrible would-be deal. This week, every Republican senator (with the exception of Rand Paul) signed a letter warning the Biden administration against attempting to ratify any agreement with Iran without congressional input and oversight. 

Via retiring Oklahoman Jim Inhofe: 

This is a succinct summary of why the reported details of the capitulation are so offensive. The Senate GOP members say they will do everything in their power to reverse a bad deal, will force votes on any Biden administration attempt to relieve or revoke sanctions, and will guarantee that any accord that does not attract broad bipartisan support "will not survive." If the Vienna talks resume, and if the Russia-related sticking points are resolved, it seems inconceivable that Biden officials will submit the final product to the US Senate as a treaty. This would require supermajority support (2/3) for approval, which would fail. However, if they respond to the statutory requirements mentioned in the letter above, the relevant threshold is effectively reversed, thanks to legislation enacted in the Obama era. McCarthy explained the dynamic in his aforementioned column: 

Beyond that, the INARA mainly and maddeningly reversed the Constitution’s presumption against international agreements. Because the Framers were skeptical of foreign entanglements, they called for such agreements to be submitted to the Senate for approval as treaties before they could be ratified. The Constitution’s treaty clause provides that such an agreement does not have the force of law unless it achieves two-thirds’ supermajority approval. Otherwise, to have legal teeth, the terms of an international agreement must be enacted by ordinary legislation (i.e., passed by both chambers of Congress and signed by the president). So appalling was the JCPOA that Obama never considered trying to submit it to the Senate as a treaty, or to propose that the full Congress — then in firm Republican control — pass it into law. [Sen. Bob] Corker’s [2015] legislation, to the contrary, purported, passively, to allow the president to put his agreement into effect unless there was a two-thirds’ supermajority for disapproval (that is, enough to override a certain Obama veto of any disapproval resolution). 

The ability of Congress to stop a terrible deal from going into effect is severely limited. When Obama was president, journalists tabulated congressional opposition to his weak agreement at a bipartisan 60 percent. That didn't prevent the US from adopting the JCPOA, although it did allow the subsequent administration to withdraw from it because it was not a binding treaty. The problem with waiting around for the next Republican administration, even if one enters office in 2025, is that time is running down. Iran's restrictions under a new deal would be drawing to a close. That's what makes the spin from Biden Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, which we referenced yesterday, so unserious: 

"If Iran has a nuclear weapon, its ability to project power into the Middle East and to deter us, our allies and partners, is enormous. So President Biden believes very strongly, as does Secretary Blinken, as do I, that we need to make sure that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon, and then we also need to deal with their malign behavior in the region. But first we’ve got to make sure that they cannot obtain a nuclear weapon."

As the Senate Republicans' letter notes, however, this deal – like the Obama-era deal – absolutely would not "make sure" that Iran "cannot obtain a nuclear weapon." It would enshrine Iran's nuclear program, ensuring that the regime has breakout nuclear capability with a very short time horizon to developing a bomb. Obama himself admitted this at the time, and the new would-be agreement is said to be shorter and weaker than the 2015 version. And one of the most egregious parts of this rumored plan is that it doesn't merely ignore Iran's myriad "malign behavior" across the region, as the 2015 version did; this iteration reportedly deals with, and rewards it: 

The deal would reportedly lift sanctions on Iranian officials complicit in the killing of hundreds of Americans in such infamous atrocities as Hezbollah’s 1983 bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut and its 1996 bombing of a compound housing U.S. Air Force personnel in Saudi Arabia...Biden’s agreement would outrageously provide Iran with relief from sanctions meant to punish the mullahs for activities — such as terrorism, regional aggression, and ballistic-missile development — that were intentionally cordoned off from the JCPOA.

As Spencer flagged yesterday, Israel's former Prime Minister is sounding the alarm

And all of this comes within the context of Iran's weekend missile attack in Iraq, which is a flagrant violation of a neighbor's sovereignty and a huge provocation, at the very least. Tehran claims there was no effort to target the US diplomatic compound, which the missiles narrowly missed. The Biden administration is credulously playing along with that line, rightly or wrongly. The maddening thing is that no matter what Iran does, pro-deal obsessives frame it as yet more evidence of how vital getting the deal is. The circular logic is exhausting. Could Iran do literally anything that would compel the Biden team to walk away (which several of its members already have, in protest)? It's hard to ignore this point: 

What is Pollak referring to? Why, this

At least two Iranians belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ covert-action Quds Force have been plotting to assassinate former national security adviser John Bolton, according to a Justice Department official with direct knowledge of the investigation. The source tells the Washington Examiner that the department possesses indictable evidence against the Iranians but that Biden administration officials are resisting publicly indicting the men for fear that it could derail their drive for a nuclear deal with Iran...The Washington Examiner is withholding some details of the plot against Bolton for national security reasons, but the DOJ source described it in highly specific terms as supported by significant Revolutionary Guard reconnaissance activity and involved an effort to recruit an assassin on U.S. soil. A Justice Department official told the Washington Examiner that "it would be categorically false to claim that these kinds of policy considerations would drive such a charging decision." ... Similar Iranian threats have been made and continue to be made against former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other former Trump administration officials who worked on Iran issues. As the Washington Examiner reported in December 2020, Congress quietly extended Pompeo's Diplomatic Security Service protective detail beyond his government tenure in response to these Iranian threats. That protective detail continues and has a high level of enhanced capability.

I ask again: What could the Iranians do to induce the Biden administration to pull the plug? Anything? 



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