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 Politics Archive 2015

Remember, congressional sanctions against Iran remain in place
by Nathan'ette Burdine: July 16, 2015 

Remember, congressional sanctions against Iran remain in place. Although the P5+1 Group approved a nuclear deal with Iran that will lift some of the international sanctions against the country, the U.S. Congress’ sanctions against Iran will remain if Congress votes against the P5 +1 Group’s nuclear deal with Iran.

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Act, which received bi-partisan support, requires that President Obama get congressional approval in order to end congressional sanctions on Iran.

Congress has 60 days to review the agreement. If Congress votes against the agreement and President Obama vetoes Congress’ vote, then Congress will have 10 days, from the date of President Obama’s veto, to override the president’s veto.

The one fact that Congress has working in its favor is that the bi-partisan support to keep all sanctions on Iran in place can easily persuade President Obama to take a second look at the deal and to head back to the negotiating table.

A recent Pew Research Poll shows that over 60% of Americans and Israelis rate Iran’s nuclear program as the second greatest threat, behind the terrorist group ISIS, to the international community.

The concern about Iran is rooted in the tumultuous relationship the country has had with the U.S. and Israel.

The 1979 Iranian hostage situation, Iran referring to Americans and Jews as “evil,” and Iran’s sponsorship of terrorist organizations, specifically the Palestinian terrorist group Hezbollah, have cemented the view that Iran cannot be trusted.

And it is for these reasons that Democrats have not come out in large numbers to support their Democratic president in reaching a deal with Iran.

Several Democrats have instead decided to join with their Republicans colleagues in questioning whether the P5+1 Group’s deal with Iran will stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and posing a threat to the U.S. and Israel.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who co-authored the Iran Nuclear Agreement Act with Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), stressed that it is Congress’ duty to make sure that Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon.

Sen. Kaine wrote, “Now that the negotiations have concluded, Congress must give the deal a thorough and independent review to ensure it cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.”

Like Kaine, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) said that she will review the deal but she will not support it if it doesn’t prevent Iran from having the means to build a nuclear weapon.

She said, “While the ideal outcome of these negotiations is an enforceable agreement which stops Iran from developing or obtaining a nuclear weapon, Congress must now carefully examine the details of this deal to see if it truly accomplishes that outcome.”

Republicans, like Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), have bluntly said they are against the deal because they believe it makes it easier for Iran to build a nuclear weapon.

Boehner said, “-the president abandoned his own goals. His ‘deal’ will hand Iran billions in sanctions relief while giving it time and space to reach a break-out threshold to produce a nuclear bomb-all without cheating.”

Boehner is correct in that the deal does not stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. The deal does, however, extend the time, to 10-15 years, that the P5+1 Group has to convince Iran that they should abandon their nuclear program that is geared towards developing a nuclear weapon. 

President Obama has argued that the current deal is the best he could get under the current circumstances.

The other two options President Obama had were to continue the sanctions or bomb Iran’s nuclear sites.

Either option would have resulted in Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon quicker than what the country will under the new agreement.

If the sanctions remained in place, Iran would have obtained a nuclear weapon by 2017.

Bombing Iran’s nuclear sites is not a good idea either because it will lead to Iran getting a nuclear weapon as well as an increase in military offensives in the region.

The problem that President Obama faces is that Congress is not willing to take the 10 year gamble that Iran will have a change of heart and decide not to build a nuclear weapon after the agreement has ended.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) said that his support of the deal is dependent on whether all “pathways” are cut off for Iran to get a nuclear weapon, while Sen. Corker said that he has a “deep skepticism” about whether the deal will prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

The fact that there remains “deep skepticism” about Iran’s behavior is what will force President Obama back to the negotiating table.

President Obama has admitted that Iran’s behavior towards the U.S. and Israel remains a concern, but that he and his team had to use other methods in order to persuade Iran to discontinue its nuclear program.

The president admitted that Iran can renege on the deal during anytime. However, President Obama did stress that if that occurs, then the U.S. would use all options, military and sanctions, in order to prevent Iran from continuing on its path to a nuclear weapon.

The one thing that President Obama must convince Congress of is that the current plan is strong enough to change Iran’s behavior when it comes to the country trying to get a nuclear weapon.

There is no doubt that this will be difficult for President Obama to do, because at the moment, there is a bi-partisan group of Congress men and women who are not yet convinced that the current plan will be strong enough to make Iran have a change heart about its plans to get a nuclear weapon.

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