If you had any doubt that the White House orchestrated the scuttling of an amendment to require submission of any final Iran deal to Congress, the Obama team removed it with peevish, angry remarks leaked, of all places, to the left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “The Obama Administration came out swinging on Tuesday night against efforts to curtail its negotiations with Iran, saying that it is ‘absolutely opposed’ to the proposed Corker Amendment to the Israel-U.S. Strategic Partnership Act that would give Congress a direct role in approving any nuclear deal with Tehran.”
That is directly contrary to public representations by Obama officials that Congress must be involved in a final deal since it would affect current sanctions legislation. It also suggests that the deal the Obama team is prepared to conclude may differ substantially from what Congress and our allies expect. Otherwise why make a fuss over submission of the deal after it is completed?
It is revealing that the president and his advisers are never this angry with Iran. Israel and its supporters receive the “Get off the lawn!” treatment. The allegation that the Senate is trying to negotiate the deal is blatantly false. The amendment simply would have required the administration submit the deal for a potential resolution of disapproval.
You can understand, perhaps, why President Obama and his crew are so testy. It is nowhere near concluding a deal, and the president is going to have a tough time convincing Congress that he is making any progress. Reuters reports:
Despite apparently reducing illicit purchases that breach United Nations sanctions, Iran is pursuing development of ballistic missiles, according to a confidential UN report.
News of the report comes as six world powers are negotiating with Tehran in Vienna to rein in its nuclear program.
The high-stakes negotiations aim for a deal by a July 20 deadline to end a long stand-off that has raised the risk of a wider Middle East war.
Tehran’s often repeated view that missiles should not be part of the nuclear talks appears to enjoy the support of Russia, one of the six global powers.
But a senior United States official made clear this week that Tehran’s ballistic capabilities must be addressed in the negotiations, since UN Security Council resolutions on Iran say that ” any missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon must be dealt with.”
Did you catch that? Iran is only reducing purchases that violate the existing sanctions. So where is the administration and why are we still negotiating with the Iranians who defy every international edict?
Seen in tandem, these two reports demonstrate that Obama officials are furious over moves that might scuttle useless negotiations with no hope of success. Success for the Obama team means staying at the table and not making Iran too mad. The opponent is not Iran but meddlesome senators who demand a real deal that Iran disarms or face new sanctions.
Whatever spin the administration advances, it is evident from Iran’s public statements and bargaining positions that it has no interest in dismantling its illicit nuclear weapons program. Congress should emphatically reject the idea that we should continue farcical negotiations that allow Iran’s economy to recover and more progress to be made on its advanced centrifuges and missile program. The administration may be deluding itself, but Congress should be clear-sighted. If it does not impose new sanctions after the July 20 deadline, Iran will negotiate until the cows come home, with the Obama administration a willing partner in the stalling. That will move Iran close to North Korea-like status as a threshold nuclear power. Either that or Israel will act militarily.
Republicans (with the exception of two senators), savvy pro-Israel Democrats such as Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Israel and our Gulf allies don’t have any confidence the president will recognize he is being played and take new action to squeeze Iran. He doesn’t like the word “containment,” but that is precisely where we are heading — he’ll negotiate, Iran will gain its nuclear weapons capability and the president will say, “What — you want a war?” to those who point out his swore up and down he would prevent a nuclear-capable Iran. And poof! Another red line will vanish.