Monday, July 20, 2015 12:41 PM
Even though the Corker-Cardin bill (the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act) gives Congress 60 days to review the new nuclear agreement with Iran, the U.N. Security Council approved the agreement this morning by passing a U.S.-drafted resolution.
I believe this was a tactical error by the Obama administration which will significantly increase congressional opposition to the Iran deal.
Obama officials have tried to downplay the significance of the Security Council vote by claiming the Iran agreement won’t be implemented for 90 days, which will give Congress 60 days to review it.
There were bipartisan calls for the Security Council vote to be delayed until after Congress reviewed the deal.
Republican Sen. Bob Corker and Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to President Obama that said voting on the Iran deal before Congress reviewed it “would be contrary to your statement that “it’s important for the American people and Congress to get a full opportunity to review this deal . . . our national security policies are stronger and more effective when they are subject to the scrutiny and transparency that democracy demands.”
Sen. Ted Cruz is livid over the Security Council vote. He said in a July 16 letter to President Obama: “It seems your administration intended all along to circumvent this domestic review. That [U.N. Ambassador] Samantha Power has already introduced a draft resolution to the Security Council portrays an offensive level of disrespect for the American people and their elected representatives in Congress.”
The chief U.S. negotiator in the talks, Wendy Sherman, dismissed calls for the U.N. vote to be delayed when she told reporters last week that “It would have been a little difficult when all of the [countries negotiating with Iran] wanted to go to the United Nations to get an endorsement of this, since it is a product of the United Nations process, for us to say, ‘Well, excuse me, the world, you should wait for the United States Congress.'”
Yesterday on ABC’s “The Week,” Secretary of State John Kerry responded to congressional demands that the Security Council vote be delayed by saying, “It’s presumptuous of some people to suspect that France, Russia, China, Germany, Britain ought to do what the Congress tells them to do. They have a right to have a vote.”
According to The New York Times, Kerry wanted Security Council consideration of the Iran deal delayed until after Congress reviewed it but “he ran into a wall of opposition from Iran, Russia, and even the United States’ closest European allies, who argued successfully that Security Council action should come first.”
Make no mistake: Today’s Security Council vote flouted Corker-Cardin since it approved the Iran deal and the lifting U.N. sanctions against Iran regardless of what Congress does. And don’t be fooled by reports that the Obama administration tried to convince other parties in the talks to delay the U.N. vote.
Iran succeeded in inserting a condition into the nuclear agreement that part of the deal required approval by the Iranian parliament.
I have no doubt the Obama administration could have delayed U.N. approval of the Iran deal if it wanted to. The arrogant statements by Kerry and Sherman about the right of other countries to vote on this agreement in the U.N. before the U.S. Congress reviews it will further anger Congress.
There is growing bipartisan opposition to the Iran deal as members of Congress discover this agreement will shorten the timeline to an Iranian nuclear weapon, has extremely weak verification provisions and and will provide Iran with billions in sanctions relief that it likely will use to fund terrorist groups, the Assad regime, and other efforts to destabilize the Middle East.
Congress is also under strong pressure from pro-Israel and Jewish groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, and the Zionist Organization of America to reject the Iran deal.
It will still be an uphill battle for Congress to reject the Iran deal under Corker-Cardin since a veto-proof majority will be needed for a “resolution of disapproval.”
However, the Obama administration’s refusal to defer to the Corker-Cardin bill by delaying the Security Council vote is such an affront to Congress that it may cause Democratic fence-sitters to oppose the deal.
Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst, followed the Iranian nuclear program for the CIA, State Department, and House Intelligence Committee. He is senior vice president for policy and programs at the Center for Security Policy.