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Opinion Senate Democrats: Buyer’s remorse yet on Iran?

Senate Democrats are learning just how foolish was their support for the president on an Iran deal they knew or must have known was seriously flawed. Two recent events make this crystal clear.

First, we learn: “Iranian hackers infiltrated the control system of a small dam less than 20 miles from New York City two years ago, sparking concerns that reached to the White House, according to former and current U.S. officials and experts familiar with the previously undisclosed incident.” We did nothing, of course, since the administration was desperately seeking its nuclear deal with Iran. This is an act of aggression plain and simple, and our failure to respond is an open invitation for more cyberattacks.

Second, Eli Lake and Josh Rogin report:

When the administration presented the agreement to Congress, lawmakers were told that new sanctions on Iran would violate the deal. Now the administration is trying to sidestep a recently passed provision to tighten rules on visas for those who have visited Iran.
Since the accord was struck last summer, the U.S. emphasis on complying with its end of the deal has publicly eclipsed its efforts to pressure Iran. In that time, Iranian authorities have detained two American dual nationals and sentenced a third on what most observers say are trumped up espionage charges. Iran’s military has conducted two missile tests, one of which the U.N. said violated sanctions, and engaged in a new offensive with Russia in Syria to shore up the country’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad.

In fact, Congress was told two contradictory things. First, the plain language of the deal said that Iran would consider new sanctions to be a violation of the deal and justify its noncompliance. On the other hand, Secretary of State John Kerry assured lawmakers that the administration would go after issues like support for terrorism and human rights abuses.

Senate Democrats should have ignored Kerry and paid attention to the text. Meanwhile, continuing in its appeasement mode, we learn that “the State Department is scrambling to confirm to Iran that it won’t enforce new rules that would increase screening of Europeans who have visited Iran and plan to come to America. There is concern the new visa waiver provisions, included in the omnibus budget Congress passed last week, would hinder business people seeking to open up new ventures in Iran once sanctions are lifted.” In other words, Iran is going to be treated better than some allies (Turkey, Jordan and many countries in our hemisphere, for example, who are not among the 38 countries eligible for visa waivers) throwing open a door for undesirables to enter the United States. Moreover, the administration did not jump until Iran squawked: “House staffers who spoke with us say Iran was included for good reason, because it remains on the U.S. list of state of sponsors of terrorism for its open support for Hezbollah and Hamas. The White House did not object until the Iranian government told the administration last week that the bill would violate the nuclear agreement, according to correspondence on these negotiations shared with us.”

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“This spectacle is so absurd that one can’t help but conclude the Iranians made an issue of this new visa restriction, which isn’t aimed exclusively at Iran and has no connection to the nuclear deal, just to humiliate the United States and/or test anew the lengths the Obama Administration will go to accommodate Tehran,” says Michael Makovsky, chief executive of the pro-Israel JINSA. “Well, mission accomplished. Unfortunately, it comes at the additional cost of possibly undermining security of the American homeland.”

Other critics of the White House’s appeasement strategy concur. Mark Dubowitz, a sanctions expert with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, tells Right Turn, “The proper response is to punish Iran’s serial violations of U.S. and international law [and] not provide even more unilateral concessions. The Obama administration is contravening the express will of Congress and sidestepping these enhanced visa requirements while Tehran holds our hostages.” He continues, “Here’s an idea: Congress should prohibit any foreign national who travels to Iran for any purpose (except family visits) from entering the U.S. until we get all our hostages back.”

The administration has no interest in enforcing any limits on Iran. Makovsky reminds us that Iran’s ballistic missile tests violate U.N. Security Council resolutions, “a fact the Obama Administration had sought ignore.” On that front, he recommends, “Congress should at least demand suspension of lifting of sanctions on Iran until it complies with [and] adheres to UNSC Resolutions on ballistic missiles and other related matters, but the White House and its Congressional supporters on Iran won’t permit that.”

Senate Democrats should stop writing meaningless letter expressing “profound concern.” They were either dupes or knew they were setting the country up for capitulation to Iran on many more fronts than just nukes. Hillary Clinton should be pressed to explain if she too was duped, or if she understood just how calamitous was the deal. Republicans should pick their nominee carefully, finding someone who can win and reverse our Iran policy. Voters should hold lawmakers who went along with this debacle responsible when they come up for reelection, be it 2016, 2018 or 2020. They have put American national security at risk and should not be returned to office.