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Is Congress Being Played on the Iran Deal?

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The New York Times recently reported “during the closed-door talks” between Iran and the world’s superpowers to limit Iran’s nuclear program, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made the case that the United Nation’s Security Council should delay its vote on the agreement until Congress has a chance to debate and vote on it.

In the many months of negotiations in Vienna, not too many bits of information from behind those “closed-door talks” were leaked. This particular one was curious, in light of the fact that, according to reports,  U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samatha Power “circulated a binding draft resolution to Security Council members that would prohibit member nations from taking action to harm the agreement.”

The Times further reported Kerry “ran into a wall of opposition” from the rest of the superpowers who insisted the agreement first be ratified by the Security Council.

And, indeed, that resolution was adopted in a unanimous vote on Monday. 

Meanwhile, it seems even before the vote, Kerry had changed his tune, saying on ABC’s This Week  the U.N. has a “right to vote.” Moreover, Kerry said, “It’s presumptuous of some people to suspect that France, Russia, China, Germany, Britain ought to do what the Congress tells them to do.”

Legal experts also say, according to the draft agreement leaked to the media on July 14, the agreement was “carefully crafted” so the U.S. is neither legally obligated to any provisions of the agreement before Congress reviews it nor even legally obligated at all to lift sanctions if Congress disapproves and overrides a presidential veto.

Still, facts on the ground serve to put pressure on Congress. It seems disingenuous that Kerry would argue for postponing the vote to his fellow superpower partners in Vienna and then turn around and shake his finger at Congress for being upset at being played for fools in the international field.

Moreover, the United States just voted in favor of the agreement at the U.N. 

Further, if legal experts are correct and no changes were made to the agreement before the vote, even though the U.S. technically does not have to abide by the Security Council’s decision (and presumably its own vote), all other member states will be happily lifting sanctions in gleeful anticipation of the millions of dollars (or, shall we say, euros) to be made by doing business with the Islamic Republic after all these years.

All of which, in short, serves to seemingly make the Congressional vote a moot point.

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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