Home/Daniel Larison/Why the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act Should Be Defeated

Why the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act Should Be Defeated

Sen. Bob Corker. Photo U.S. Embassy, Moldova

Surprising no one, Michael Gerson supports sabotaging negotiations with Iran:

It is the common temptation of Republicans and Democrats to support a strong presidency when it is used to do things they like and to condemn it when it does things they don’t. There is, however, a group of committed institutionalists that has gathered around the bipartisan Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, now scheduled for a vote of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 14.

Support for this bill has nothing to do with any commitment to the institution of Congress or to its proper role in making policy. Let’s be clear about that from the start. It is aimed squarely at creating new obstacles to implementing any deal reached with Iran with the goal of preventing a diplomatic resolution of the nuclear issue. If the saboteurs cannot derail the deal before the end of this month as they had once hoped, they are determined to continue trying to kill it later on. It is worth noting here that the alternative to a “bad” deal is no deal at all, which means that Iran’s nuclear program will be under far fewer restrictions than if the “bad” deal were in effect. Gerson says that there are Republican senators that favor a “reasonable” deal with Iran on the nuclear issue, but in practice what these senators consider reasonable would never be accepted by Iran. That tells us that what they think is “reasonable” is obviously excessive and if taken seriously would prevent a deal from being reached.

Daryl Kimball recently explained why the substance of this bill is harmful:

The Corker bill would put on hold the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal for at least sixty-five days, and probably far more. This would delay key steps to constrain and reduce Iran’s nuclear capabilities. The bill would also block the president’s existing legislative authority to waive certain nuclear-related sanctions at the onset of an agreement, which by itself could wreck the deal.

More than this, Kimball makes clear that the bill would impose additional conditions that the administration couldn’t possibly meet:

In reality, the bill moves the goalposts by requiring the president to make certifications outside the scope or terms of what will likely be in the nuclear deal.

These additional conditions include: certifying that Iran is not providing support or financing for terrorism; that it has not delayed cooperation for “more than one week” with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); and has not engaged in centrifuge research that “may substantially enhance the enrichment capacity of Iran if deployed.” The bill says if he can’t make those certifications, Congress could reinstate all the sanctions previously waived or lifted under the agreement under expedited procedures.

These terms are anything but reasonable. The bill is clearly written to make it impossible for the U.S. to live up to its end of an agreement. No wonder Obama has threatened to veto the bill. No wonder that the Iran hawks that hate diplomacy with Iran support it. The Corker bill is not just an attempt by Congress to affirm the legislature’s role in the process. It is a deliberate attempt to introduce deal-breaking conditions after the main negotiations have concluded. It is a less blatant attempt at sabotage than the Cotton letter was, but its purpose is no different. Anyone that wishes the negotiation with Iran to succeed ought to oppose the bill’s passage and should tell their senators not to support it.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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