Democrats Clinch Nuclear Deal (Ezekiel 17)


Democrats clinch critical 41 votes for Iran nuclear deal

Associated Press

By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press 1 day ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats clinched the crucial Senate votes Tuesday to block passage of a disapproval resolution against the Iran nuclear accord, an outcome that would be a major victory for President Barack Obama against united Republican opposition.

But amid fast-paced developments as lawmakers returned to Washington from their five-week summer recess, supporters of the deal stopped short of declaring victory. That was because it remained uncertain whether all 41 Democratic and independent senators now on record in favor of the deal would also support a filibuster to block a final vote on the disapproval resolution.
Still, the complicated machinery of Congress was turning in favor of the president on his top foreign policy priority, despite GOP control of both the House and the Senate. Already supporters of the deal have the votes in hand to uphold Obama’s veto of a disapproval resolution, should that become necessary. Blocking the disapproval resolution with a filibuster, while ideal from the White House view because it would spare Obama from having to use a veto, would not change the ultimate outcome.

This agreement will stand,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a speech Tuesday morning at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “America will uphold its commitment and we will seize this opportunity to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

As the day began Tuesday Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced his opposition to the deal, a surprise “no” vote from a moderate Democrat who had sounded like he favored the pact aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

But that setback for supporters was erased within the hour as three Democrats seen as potential “no” votes on the deal all announced they would support it. Those senators were Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Gary Peters of Michigan.

“The fundamental question for me is what this agreement means for the prospects of Iran getting a nuclear bomb,” Wyden said. “This agreement with the duplicitous and untrustworthy Iranian regime falls short of what I had envisioned, however, I have decided the alternatives are even more dangerous.”

The agreement struck by Iran, the U.S. and five world powers in July will provide Iran hundreds of billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions in exchange for a decade of constraints on the country’s nuclear program.

Republicans who control the House and Senate strongly oppose the pact, saying it makes dangerous concessions to Iran, and hope to push through a resolution of disapproval this week.

Leaders of Israel have been strongly lobbying against the deal they say could empower Iran, but had succeeded in winning over only three Senate Democrats, albeit all of them prominent figures — Chuck Schumer of New York, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Manchin added his name to that list Tuesday.
But the majority of Democrats have swung behind the president, and predictions that the issue would dominate discussion during Congress’ August recess never came to pass as political headlines were largely overtaken by Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. The two topics will converge on Wednesday, though, when Trump joins Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for a rally to oppose the deal — the same day Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers a speech supporting it.

The deal sets Iran back so that it is at least a year away from being able to produce enough nuclear material for a weapon, before the restrictions ease after a decade. Iran is currently assessed to be only 2 to 3 months away from being able to enrich enough uranium for a bomb, if it decides to do so.

Iran Deal Will Pass ! (Ezekiel 17)

 
Mikulski Hands Obama Iran Deal Victory

The support of at least 34 senators ensures that Congress cannot block the nuclear agreement.

By Gabrielle Levy Sep 2, 2015

Democrats in the Senate have guaranteed a victory for President Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement, creating a firewall of support for an agreement aimed at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., on Wednesday became the 34th member of the caucus to support the deal struck in July between Iran and the U.S., China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom. The pact aims to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling international economic sanctions.

Where Democrats Stand on the Iran Deal

“No deal is perfect, especially one negotiated with the Iranian regime,” Mikulski wrote in a statement Wednesday. “I have concluded that this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the best option available to block Iran from having a nuclear bomb. For these reasons, I will vote in favor of this deal. However, Congress must also reaffirm our commitment to the safety and security of Israel.”
Because Republicans, who hold majorities in both the House and Senate, are in nearly unanimous opposition to the agreement, the White House has worked to win over skeptical Democrats to ensure Congress can’t block it.

Both chambers have been expected to vote on resolutions of disapproval upon return from August recess this month. If the resolution of disapproval passes, the 34 senators in favor of the deal guarantee that the Senate cannot get to the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto. In the House, at least 44 Democrats would have to join with Republicans for a veto override, but without a path forward in the Senate, the vote would just be for show.

The Obama administration has grown more confident in recent weeks as the number of lawmakers supporting the deal grew steadily throughout August. While even some Democrats have acknowledged flaws in the agreement – such as its failure to address Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism or its limitations on inspections of undeclared or military sites – most have agreed the value of the deal outweighs any alternatives.

“Thirty-four votes are obviously enough votes for the president’s veto to be upheld,” Secretary of State John Kerry said on CNN Wednesday. “That is not satisfactory for us. We do want to try to go further. We’ll continue to persuade.”

Republicans, however, slammed the development Wednesday.

“Forcing a bad deal, over the objections of the American people and a majority in Congress, is no win for President Obama,” said Cory Fritz, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. “The White House may have convinced just enough Democrats to back an agreement that legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program, trusts the regime to self-inspect and offers amnesty to terrorists, but this deal is far from being implemented.”

When I’m president, we won’t just reverse President Obama’s dangerous Iran deal. We will increase sanctions on Iran,” Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said on Twitter.
Some Republicans have proposed new economic sanctions that they hope would force Tehran to back out of its side of the deal, but such legislation would face similar, likely insurmountable, hurdles.
For its part, the White House would prefer to have the support of at least 41 of the 46 members of the Senate Democratic caucus. That would mean members could block the resolution of disapproval from coming to a vote in the first place and spare Obama the need to break out the veto pen.
With just 10 Senate Democrats undeclared, only two have decided to oppose the deal: Chuck Schumer of New York and Bob Menendez of New Jersey.

What will happen when the Senate rejects the Iran deal

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What happens if the Senate rejects the Iran deal?

By JOSEPH CIRINCIONE

The nuclear agreement with Iran is supported by almost every nation in the world. It has the backing of nearly the entire American security establishment, current and retired. It enjoys the overwhelming support of nuclear scientists and policy experts. There is no credible alternative.

And yet, with almost a month to go before the vote, lobbying against the deal is intense. No Republican senator supports the agreement. Two prominent Democratic senators, Charles Schumer and Robert Menendez, have denounced it.

Are there really only two options on Iran?

If the Senate follows their lead and kills the deal, it will spell humiliation for the United States, an unconstrained Iranian nuclear program and the increased risk of a new war in the Middle East.
Here is how rejection would play out.

First, our allies would desert us. This is not just an agreement struck between the United States and Iran. It is a deal negotiated over two years by the world powers. America led the way, but Russia, China, the conservative governments of Britain, France and Germany, and the entire European Union were equal partners. Everyone had to agree on every term or there would have been no deal.

Opponents spin fanciful notions of a “better deal” with tougher terms, bigger sticks. This is nonsense. Our European partners have already told us that it is this option or nothing. If Congress blocks the deal, no nation, least of all Iran, will believe that the United States is capable of making and keeping a new agreement. U.S. credibility would collapse faster than the Chinese stock market.

The sanctions regime would then unravel. The U.S. persuaded most of the world to curtail their trade and financing with Iran because we presented a feasible path to a diplomatic solution. Take away diplomacy and the sanctions cannot hold. Any new ones passed by Congress would be feckless.
With diplomacy over, sanctions withering and the hard-liners in ascendancy, Iran’s nuclear program would come back with a vengeance.

“The idea that you can put sanctions on the whole world, including our allies, is not promising,” former head of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker said last week. Expecting the world to go along with new sanctions “when the U.S. is the one that backs out is not a strong negotiating position, to say the least.” Even our closest allies would steadily resume oil trade, investments and banking with Iran.
Hard-liners in Iran would also reassert their dominance. If you liked the Iranian government led by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, you are going to love the new one that would sweep into office once the centrist government of Hassan Rouhani is thrown out in disgrace. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would announce that he was right not to trust the Americans. The hopes of the young, educated population for a new chance at reform would be crushed.

These conditions almost certainly would lead to a renewed Iranian nuclear program. For 10 years, as sanctions and the threat of military force grew, so did the number of Iranian centrifuges. It was only diplomacy that halted and then rolled back the program. With diplomacy over, sanctions withering and the hard-liners in ascendancy, Iran’s nuclear program would come back with a vengeance. In short order, the Iranians could have tens of thousands of centrifuges enriching tons of uranium. They would be able to make enough for multiple bombs within days, not the full year the deal provides before they could make enough material for just one bomb.

Could Israel live with that threshold capability? Its political leaders have repeatedly said they couldn’t and threatened attacks if Iran gets this close to a bomb. U.S. hawks are eager to back them. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) says U.S. military strikes would be quick, cheap and effective.
U.S. military leaders are more sober about how difficult war would be. Draft U.S. plans call for weeks of airstrikes. Thousands of Iranians would die. Retaliation would be certain, including elite Quds Force attacks on U.S. and Israeli targets around the world. Iranian militias and the Revolutionary Guard would strike U.S. forces in the region. Iran would close the Strait of Hormuz, through which one-fifth of the world’s oil flows.

And war would not stop an Iranian bomb; it would accelerate it. U.S. military leaders estimate bombing would set back the Iranian program by only one to three years. Tehran would put the pedal to the metal. There would be no debate on whether to build a bomb. The population would rally around an otherwise unpopular regime, and the people would see a nuclear weapon as their only protection from a belligerent United States and Israel.

All of this is preventable. The deal in hand would stop an Iranian bomb and prevent a potential war. Congress would be foolish to reject this historic opportunity.

Joseph Cirincione is president of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation.

Democrats Cracking Under Iran Deal (Ezekiel 17)

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 31:  U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) attends a press conference announcing federal funding for Super Storm Sandy recovery efforts on March 31, 2015 in New York City. The FEMA grant is the largest single grant in U.S. history for disaster relief.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Growing signs Schumer will oppose Iran deal

‘He’s got the toughest vote of his career coming,’ a colleague says of the New York Democrat, who insists he’s undecided.

By Manu Raju and Burgess Everett
8/2/15 5:44 PM EDT
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NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 31: U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) attends a press conference announcing federal funding for Super Storm Sandy recovery efforts on March 31, 2015 in New York City. The FEMA grant is the largest single grant in U.S. history for disaster relief. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Chuck Schumer is getting an earful from opponents of the Iran nuclear deal.

More than 10,000 phone calls have flooded his office line the past two weeks, organized by a group looking to kill the deal. Another group has dropped seven figures on TV in New York City to pressure Schumer and other lawmakers to vote against the plan. The powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee has put its muscle behind an effort to lobby the New Yorker against it.

And Dov Hikind, a state assemblyman from Brooklyn, was arrested for disorderly conduct while protesting the deal outside Schumer’s office.

People who have spoken with the senior New York senator believe the pressure campaign is having an effect: They say there is a growing sense inside and outside the Capitol that Schumer will vote against the deal when the Senate considers it in September. The bigger question many have now is this: How hard will he push against it?

Schumer is one of about 15 Democratic senators who will decide the fate of President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal in Congress. The president can afford to lose no more than a dozen Democrats on the Senate floor, and as the next Democratic leader, Schumer may be the most critical of them all.

In an interview with POLITICO, Schumer insisted he’s still weighing his vote. He said he would decide based on the merits of the deal, not lobbying from either side.

“I haven’t made up my mind,” said Schumer, who is in line to be the first Jewish Senate leader next Congress. “There are expectations all over the lot. I’m doing what I’m always doing when I have a very difficult decision: Learning it carefully and giving it my best shot, doing what I think is right. I’m not going to let pressure or politics or party get in the way of that.”

He wouldn’t say if he would forcefully advocate his position once he makes his stance clear.
“I’ve got to first decide how I’m voting,” Schumer said.

Opponents have been much louder than supporters. If that trend continues over the break at town hall meetings, it will only amplify pressure on swing Democrats to vote against the deal.

Sen. Chris Coons, who was personally lobbied by President Barack Obama and national security adviser Susan Rice to back the deal during a trip to Africa in July, said the view of the accord was about evenly split in his home state of Delaware in the first few days after the announcement. But the Democrat now says telephone calls against the deal outnumber those in favor by 10-to-1 in his state, an avalanche of opposition he has no choice but to listen to.

“I am a Democrat, and I would like to be able to support this agreement,” Coons said. “But I have serious reservations about it.”

Schumer does as well. As an Israel hawk who will be the next Democratic leader after Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) retires in January 2017, Schumer is seen as a bellwether among the handful of fence-sitting Democrats who may buck the White House and try to kill the sweeping accord. That leaves Schumer stuck between pro-Israel forces who have long been a key base of support and who are trying to kill the deal — and the White House and its progressive allies who are eager to secure a centerpiece of Obama’s foreign policy legacy and stave off a potential war.

Schumer will be criticized no matter what he does. If he tries to lobby members against the deal, he’ll be lashed by the left for undermining both President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and precipitating another conflict in the Middle East. If he quietly opposes the deal, he’ll be criticized by his hawkish Israel supporters for not doing enough to scuttle the agreement.

And if he supports it, he’s bound to get slammed by powerful Jewish donors and constituents who have long been among his staunchest supporters.

“Boy, I’m glad I’m not Chuck Schumer, I’ll tell ya,” said a smirking John McCain (R-Ariz.), a friend of the New York Democrat. “He’s got the toughest vote of his career coming.”

Congress has 60 days to consider the Iran nuclear agreement, which was reached between the United States, five world powers and Iran, meaning decisive votes will occur no later than September 17th. The agreement seeks to pare back Iran’s nuclear program, opening its facilities to inspections and monitoring, in exchange for lifting sanctions.

Congress vote is on whether to lift legislative sanctions, which have been key to bringing Iran to the negotiating table and would provide major economic relief if Congress lets the deal go through. Republicans will need a veto-proof, two-thirds majority to scuttle the deal, a high bar that will require a sizable bloc of Democratic opposition.

Skeptics in both parties fear the plan will make Iran richer but do little to curtail the country’s nuclear ambitions. Nowhere is that feeling more prevalent than in New York, with one of the most politically active Jewish populations. Last week, Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) announced her opposition to the deal, and one New York Jewish Democrat, Eliot Engel, expressed deep skepticism of the agreement.
“There are a number of parts of the deal that trouble me,” Engel said in an interview. “The main problem I have is that this deal will give a lot of money to Iran. Iran will be awash in cash, and they will be able to use it to fund their terrorist activities.”

The New York and New Jersey delegations have been the top focus of groups trying to kill the agreement, and there’s evidence they are making headway. In New Jersey, Sen. Robert Menendez sounds like a “no” vote, while Sen. Cory Booker is undecided. In New York City, the group Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran spent $1.6 million on broadcast television and $119,500 on cable betw
een July 16-July 30 advertising on the issue, according to a media tracking source. Secure America Now, a hawkish group trying to kill the deal, has organized the call-in campaign to Schumer.

“You will always get phone calls when you’re from New York,” Schumer said. “Hundreds of them on every issue.”
Indeed, Schumer is feeling heat to support the deal, too. The National Iranian American Council bought a full-page New York Times ad in support of the deal in July and is delivering petitions to his local offices and hoping to blunt efforts of opponents at town halls this month. J Street, a liberal Jewish group, is also pressing Schumer to back the nuclear pact.

Schumer will “have the support of the majority of American Jews” if he backs the deal, said Jessica Rosenblum, a spokeswoman for J Street.

Schumer has long sought to avoid alienating large segments of his caucus by taking vocal positions on divisive issues; when he has to take a stand, he typically keeps it low-key. Many expect him to wait to announce his opposition, possibly until the end of the process, and to do little to advocate internally for others to join him.

The Genie Is Out Of The Bottle: The Iran Deal Is The Only Option

Kerry warns Congress scrapping Iran deal would mean path to nuclear weapon

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Secretary of State John Kerry intensified efforts on Tuesday to beat back criticism of the Iran nuclear deal and convince U.S. lawmakers that rejecting it would give Tehran a fast track to a weapon and access to billions of dollars from collapsed sanctions.

Days after tough questioning by lawmakers at an emotional Senate hearing, Kerry sharpened his response to criticism that the deal’s provisions were temporary and would not prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon in the long run.

“Iran has agreed to refrain from producing or acquiring highly enriched uranium and weapons-grade plutonium for nuclear weapons forever,” he told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. “When it comes to verification and monitoring, there is absolutely no sunset in this agreement. Not in 10 years, not in 15 years, not in 20 years, not in 25 years – no sunset ever.”
Challenged even by some of his fellow Democrats, Kerry said: “If you kill the deal, you are not making America safer.”

Joined by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Kerry was part of the President Barack Obama’s effort to coax skeptical lawmakers into supporting the nuclear pact.
Congress has until Sept. 17 to endorse or reject it. Rejection would prevent Obama from waiving most U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iran, a key component of the deal.

Under the July 14 pact, world powers agreed to lift sanctions in return for curbs on a nuclear program the West suspects was aimed at creating an atomic bomb, but which Tehran says is peaceful.
‘CASH BONANZA’

The four-hour hearing grew heated as some House Republicans shouted at Kerry. Senate Republicans last week accused him of having been “bamboozled” and “fleeced.”

At times, Kerry visibly lost patience, saying he was hearing many complaints, while opponents offered no alternative.

“What this agreement is supposed to do is stop them from having a nuclear weapon. Now I want to hear somebody tell me how they’re going to do that without this agreement,” he said.
Kerry insisted walking away would isolate the United States.

“If we walk away, we walk away alone. Our partners are not going to be with us,” Kerry said.
Lew said that other countries would not keep the sanctions against Iran in place.

“You could end up with Iran getting access to that money without the benefit of an agreement, which would be a very bad outcome,” he noted.

Both Republicans and Democrats signaled the potential difficulty in getting Congress on board.
Representative Ed Royce, the committee’s Republican chairman, said the deal gives Iran a “cash bonanza,” while weakening Washington’s ability to pressure Tehran.

Representative Eliot Engel, the top Democrat, said he saw a number of troublesome issues.
Others expressed concern about Americans held in Iranian prisons or worried about Iran’s backing militants.

“They support Hamas, Hezbollah and Houthi, and those are just the organizations that begin with the letter ‘H,’” said Democratic Representative Brad Sherman.

Although Republicans control majorities in the House and Senate, they would need Democratic votes against Obama to override a promised veto if Congress rejects the nuclear pact.

Many Democrats have not decided how they will vote when Congress returns in September from a five-week recess, but several have come out in favor.

Representative Sander Levin, the longest serving Jewish member of the House, issued a statement on Tuesday backing the deal.

Jewish lawmakers known as strong supporters of Israel, such as Engel and Sherman, have been under particularly intense pressure over the deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has cultivated a close relationship with Republicans, has called it a threat to his country’s survival.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Howard Goller, Andrew Hay and G Crosse)

Of Course The Republicans Will Fall Into The Iran Trap

 

Will Republicans Fall for the Iran Trap?

If the GOP manages to kill the Iran deal, thus isolating the country and putting it on a path to war, then the party’s political viability could be placed on ice for a considerable period.

Robert W. Merry

July 27, 2015
The Republican Party is walking into a trap, and there doesn’t seem to be anything on the horizon that can save it from the disaster. In Congress, they will vote to a person, or nearly so, in opposing President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. Meanwhile, it appears that every one of the current sixteen GOP presidential candidates will campaign against the agreement. What’s more, at least three GOP candidates—Florida’s Marco Rubio, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Texas’s Ted Cruz—say they will rescind the deal if they become president. No doubt others will soon echo that threat.

All this will be thoroughly debated—first, during the congressional drama that now will unfold regarding GOP efforts to deny presidential authority to lift U.S. sanctions against Iran; and, then, during the forthcoming presidential election. And through those debates the GOP position will collapse of its own weight. The underlying logic is so flimsy and riddled with inconsistencies that ultimately the American people will reject it.

Begin with the GOP response to Obama’s argument that the choice facing the United States now is the current agreement, which is imperfect but sound, and a likely war as the only remaining option for halting or delaying Iran’s nuclear-arms program. Opponents argue that that is a false dichotomy in that another option would be further sanctions to force upon Iran a better agreement. There are two problems with that response.

First, there is no evidence that a better deal would be in the offing should the United States crank up the economic pressure through tougher sanctions. The current agreement, after all, is the product of long and arduous negotiations aimed at reaching a point that all sides could live with, not that one side could tout as a definitive victory. That’s not how negotiations work, and certainly not when national interest and national pride are involved. Granted, the outcome wasn’t ideal from the American standpoint, but no ideal outcome is ever in the cards in such circumstances.

Second, even if a better deal were possible at some point in the past, that train has left the station. Having gone through those wrenching bargaining sessions, Iran simply isn’t going to go back to square one because Ted Cruz, Rand Paul et al don’t like it. Iran’s only viable option would be to push headlong toward nuclear weapons as a future bargaining chip for sanctions removal and, more significantly, to fortify it against the nearly certain war that has been promoted so assiduously by the current Israeli government and by so many likeminded U.S. politicians. And there wouldn’t be anything short of war to stop the Iranians from pursuing that course.

Besides, it isn’t just America and Iran on this parchment. Other signatories are China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany, and there is no reason to believe any of these countries will back away from the agreement. So how is the United States going to separate itself from this so-called P5+1 contingent and unilaterally pressure Iran to renegotiate the deal, particularly as these other nations are working within the United Nations to lift UN sanctions against Iran. The result will be a degree of U.S. isolation never experienced since before World War II.

And so we come back to the Obama dichotomy: the current policy or a likely war. This stark choice has not crystallized within the national consciousness thus far. But it will. The American people are not stupid, at least not collectively. They will be able to assess the arguments on both sides, and the Obama argument will not only make more sense but also will convey with more credibility where the real dangers lie in this geopolitical equation.

In any risk assessment, there are two fundamental elements. The first is the magnitude of the downside risk; the second is the likelihood of it. The magnitude of the disaster that would flow from a U.S. war with Iran (far greater than the disaster that ensued from our war with Iraq) is not difficult to contemplate—huge troop requirements, burdensome financial commitments, tragic casualty numbers, likely civic unrest at home, further destabilization of the Middle East with utterly unknown (but serious) consequences, further U.S. isolation in the world, possibly a spreading conflagration to other parts of the world as other powers challenge a distracted America. The likelihood of the worst-case scenario here may not be ominously high, but even best-case consequences could be tragic, and the law of unintended consequences is never far away when the shooting starts.

Which brings us to the second argument of the neocon wing of the GOP, which increasingly seems to be the entire GOP. It is that Iran is a nation of crazies, bent on conquering the world and destroying Israel without any serious regard to its own fate. Mitt Romney wrote just recently, “Iran is led by suicidal, apocalypse-seeking, America-hating, Israel-denying theocratic fanatics.” These fanatics, he added (in case anybody may have missed the point), are “entirely bereft of restraint, decency and respect for human life.” So naturally it follows, “If the ayatollahs have nuclear weapons, they will use them, someday, somewhere.”

This is breathtaking in its own fanaticism—and in the ignorance that, one might have hoped, would have been tucked away after Romney’s 2012 presidential defeat at the hands of a lackluster incumbent. A survey of recent Iranian history suggests that its leaders, while starkly fundamentalist in their religious sensibility, conduct foreign policy based on a logical understanding of their national interests and an often brilliant pursuit of them within the context of geopolitical reality.

They certainly never sent an army halfway around the world to overthrow the leader of a sovereign state with the intent of establishing a beachhead for the transformation of an entire regional culture. Now that’s “bereft of restraint.” The only conventional war the Ayatollahs have engaged in ensued when Iran was invaded by Iraq—with American support. True, they align themselves with some nations we don’t like, but those alliances, as unsavory as they may be to us, are in Iran’s interest as a regional power in a nasty neighborhood. One can argue that this renders Iran a U.S. adversary, but there is no evidence that these people are fanatical nihilists who want to destroy the world.

As to the prospect that Iran inevitably would use nuclear weapons if it had them, it is worth noting that the world has nine nuclear nations, and only one has ever used them—and that when no other nation had them for retaliation. Romney is saying here that Iran is more fanatical and suicidal than any other nuclear nation in the history of the nuclear age, even North Korea. That isn’t going to hold up when the American people get down to assessing the arguments of this debate.
Finally, we are told that Iran will cheat on the agreement, that inspections won’t be rigor
ous enough, that Iran always cheats and is hell-bent on getting nuclear weapons so it will cheat here for sure and thwart all efforts by the agreement signatories and the UN, including UN inspectors, to monitor its nuclear activity until the world is faced with a fait accompli. Perhaps. But how realistic is such a scenario? With satellite technology and the CIA and Israeli intelligence and random revelations, could Iran really spring such a fait accompli on the world before the world caught wind of it? Once again we come to the likelihood factor in risk analysis. The likelihood factor here is very slim.
History tells us that the American people like it when their presidents score big foreign-policy triumphs—and count it as a plus when the incumbent or incumbent party seeks White House retention at the next election. This is Obama’s big foreign-policy triumph. And, while the American people haven’t yet embraced it as such, they will. As the debate progresses, it will become increasingly clear that the consequences of killing this deal or reneging on it are ominous, that America and the world retain plenty of options if Iran proves treacherous, and that the stakes include not only America’s relationship with Iran but also America’s standing in the world. Not to mention the prospects for war if the deal goes down.

If it survives over nearly unanimous GOP objections, as appears likely, it will be a net negative for Republicans, perhaps even a big one. But, if the party manages to kill the deal for America, thus isolating the country and putting it upon a path to war, then the party’s political viability could be placed on ice for a considerable period.

Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington political correspondent and publishing executive, is the author most recently of Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians.

Kerry Is Wrong: The GOP Will Be Blamed If Iran Deal Fails

  

Israel to be blamed if Iran nuclear deal fails: Kerry

Daily Pakistan 

NEW YORK (Web Desk) – US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Israel of finding itself more isolated in the international arena and “more blamed”, if Congress voted against the Iranian nuclear deal, signed last week in Vienna.

Kerry said this while delivering a speech at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York, reported The Times of Israel.

“I fear that what could happen is that, if Congress were to overturn it, our friends in Israel could actually wind up being more isolated. And more blamed,” Kerry told the audience.

Read more: UN endorses Iran deal, paves way to lift sanctions

Former Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren rejected Kerry’s statement. “If American legislators reject the nuclear deal, they will do so exclusively on the basis of US interests,” said Oren in a statement.

Earlier, Kerry warned that any future Israeli military action against Iran over its nuclear program would be an “enormous mistake.”

The Difference Between Chess And Tic-Tac-Toe

 

Obama Tells Congress to Approve Deal, Khamenei Directs Rouhani to Pick It Apart

by Bridget Johnson
July 16, 2015 – 8:15 am


That’s the Supreme Leader’s letter to President Hassan Rouhani, as released on his Twitter account.
So while President Obama is urging Congress to quickly drop its opposition and approve the deal, Iran’s leader is urging his president and lawmakers to carefully pick it apart.

The White House dismisses tweets from Ayatollah Khamenei as fodder for domestic consumption.
In another slap in the face to the United States, Khamenei pardoned 930 convicts today for Eid al-Fitr. Americans Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati and Jason Rezaian were not among them.

Iran deal? Still a long way to go (Ezekiel 17)

 

Congress promises rough ride for any nuclear deal with Iran

By Richard Cowan and Douwe Miedema
WASHINGTON | Sun Jul 12, 2015 1:28pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Republican in the U.S. Senate cast doubt on Sunday on whether President Barack Obama would be able to win approval in Congress for any nuclear deal with Iran, and some Democrats also expressed reservations.

I think it’s going to be a very hard sell, if it’s completed, in Congress,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told “Fox News Sunday”. “We already know it’s going to leave Iran as a threshold nuclear state.”

The U.S. Congress could play a key role in the future of any deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, with negotiations reaching a critical juncture in Vienna on Sunday.

Obama can enter a deal with Iran, which Congress would review. If the review went against him, Obama could veto the disapproval legislation. Congress could then try to reverse his veto, which is difficult. But if it succeeded, its disapproval would take away Obama’s ability to temporarily waive many U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a leading foreign policy voice among Senate Democrats, said the prospect of a deal made him “anxious,” saying the talks had moved from preventing Iran from having a nuclear capability, to managing it.

Western diplomats say the goal of the deal is to increase the time it would take for Iran to produce enough enriched uranium fuel for a weapon to at least one year, from current estimates of 2-3 months. In return for curbs on its nuclear activities, Iran would get relief from economic sanctions.
Menendez, interviewed on ABC’s “This Week” program, did not rule out supporting a deal.
Many congressional Republicans, including McConnell, have criticized the negotiations, saying the United States should be increasing economic sanctions against Iran. Tehran maintains its nuclear work is solely for peaceful purposes.

Referring to the congressional review process, McConnell said: “He (Obama) will have to get at least 34 votes” in the 100-member Senate to sustain his veto, adding that he hoped Democrats would resist a “strong pull” not to buck Obama.

The debate in Washington over any deal would happen with the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign already under way.

One Republican candidate, Senator Lindsay Graham, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” the negotiations should be left to the next president, who would take office in January 2017.

“I think a good outcome is to basically leave the interim deal in place” with Iran until then, Graham said.

House Speaker John Boehner said failure of the talks would not be a bad outcome.

On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Boehner said: “If, in fact, there’s no agreement, the sanctions are going to go back in place,” prodding Iran to “abandon their efforts to get a nuclear weapon, and stop being the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.”

(Editing by Ruth Pitchford and Robin Pomeroy)

GOP Ready To Block Nuclear Deal (Ezekiel 17)

 

GOP Leaders: Any Nuclear Deal With Iran Will Face Deep Opposition in Congress

By KRISTINA PETERSON

Republican leaders signaled Sunday that any final nuclear deal struck with Iran will face deep opposition in the GOP-controlled Congress.

For weeks, Republicans have called for President Barack Obama and his team of U.S. diplomats to walk away from negotiations aimed at curbing Iran’s ability to build nuclear weapons. As top officials entered what they labeled a “decisive” phase of talks with Iran and five other global powers on Sunday, GOP leaders said they doubted a final deal would pass muster with most Republicans.
It’s going to be a very hard sell — if it’s completed — in Congress,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said on Fox News Sunday. Mr. McConnell said he worried that any deal would still leave Iran capable of producing a nuclear weapon on relatively short notice.

We already know that it’s going to leave Iran as a threshold nuclear state,” Mr. McConnell said. “It appears as if the administration’s approach to this was to reach whatever agreement the Iranians are willing to enter into.”

Mr. Obama has said repeatedly that he is willing to abandon the talks if the agreement under consideration won’t prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) said the administration did not look likely to produce a deal that met the standards they had pledged to meet. In early April, Iran, the U.S. and five other global powers agreed to the broad parameters of a deal aimed at establishing strong controls and constraints on Iran’s nuclear program.

From everything that’s leaked from these negotiations, the administration’s backed away from almost all of the guidelines that they set up for themselves,” Mr. Boehner said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation. “No deal is better than a bad deal.”

Some Democrats have said they are optimistic that the administration would only agree to an accord that would effectively monitor and enforce constraints on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

“He fully realizes his legacy will not be the next 18 months and whether or not he gets a deal signed. It will be whether any deal, if there is one, endures and is effective and actually blocks Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in an interview Friday.

Under legislation passed by Congress in May, Mr. Obama will not be able to ease any sanctions on Iran during a 60-day period designated for lawmakers to review the deal, beginning once the finalized deal’s full text has been submitted to Congress.

Lawmakers will have to decide whether to try to pass a resolution through both chambers disapproving or approving the deal, either of which would require at least 60 votes to clear the Senate. Congress could also opt not to vote on it at all.
 
Mr. McConnell said he thought a resolution disapproving the deal could get more than 60 votes in the Senate, but acknowledged that it may be harder for Republicans to find the veto-proof majority in the Senate that would be needed to stop the deal’s implementation. Republicans hold 54 of the Senate’s 100 seats.

For Democrats, “I know there’ll be a strong pull not to go against the president on something as important as this is to him,” Mr. McConnell said.