Iran

Doesn't Matter If Iran Deal Goes to UN Before It Goes to Congress

Much ado about nothing

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Senate

Vice President Joe Biden showed up on Capitol Hill today to meet with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to talk about the deal negotiated with Iran in Vienna this week. That deal was the result of more than two years of negotiating between officials from Iran and the U.S., U.K, France, China, Russia, and Germany. It involves the lifting of a number of United Nations Security Council resolutions and placing Iran's nuclear programs within the purview of international inspectors.

At the meeting, Biden indicated the deal was on its way to the U.N. Security Council for that body to begin deliberating it. The deal must be approved by the Security Council in order to take effect. While all five permanent members were part of the talks, there are 10 other members of the Security Council. Assuming the U.S., U.K, France, China, and Russia vote yes, as opposed to present, the deal still needs the support of at least four other countries. The deal has to be approved by Congress—per legislation passed by that body and signed by the president, if Congress rejects the deal President Obama can veto their decision. If opponents of the deal have 2/3rd support, they can override the veto. The deal will also have to go through the domestic political process in Iran and the other countries involved.

Despite the several steps still needed just to begin implementing the deal, members of Congress are upset this multilateral deal may be considered by the Security Council before it's considered by Congress.

Via the Washington Examiner:

"We have a great concern with that," said Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who chairs the committee. "I think it's an affront to the American people … what this means is that they are agreeing to an agreement they don't even know if they can implement."

"I question the judgment of our president and the other members" involved in the negotiations in presenting this to the United Nations for approval when the American people haven't had a chance to take a hard look at its details and see what their members of Congress think about it, he told reporters after meeting with Biden.

The Ranking Democrat on the committee, Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, also joined in:

"I think that the administration should wait until Congress has its review process," he said. "That issue did come up and we got into some of the historic differences between the executive and the legislative branches. Vice President Biden said it's not unusual for the administration to have different views on that than Congress."

Part of that Congressional delay, however, is a result of Congress' own legislation, which requires the Obama Administration not simply to submit the text of the deal to Congress, but to also submit supporting analyses from the State Department. Those take time but are not actually needed for members of Congress to make an informed decision—members of Congress are free to read the deal now. An analysis from the State Department seems unnecessary—a delay created by Congress. Turning around and getting upset because that delay means other bodies will move forward on considering the deal first seems disingenuous, though the overall interest by Congress to have a say in foreign policy for once is hopeful. This kind of engagement could've been useful after, say, the U.S joined the intervention in Libya. Back then Congress couldn't be bothered to pass any kind of substantive resolution on the subject. A substantive decision by Congress isn't guaranteed here either. If 60 days after the deal is submitted to Congress the Congress hasn't voted, the deal can move forward anyway.

Perhaps the biggest success in the Iran deal is that it illustrated that deals don't have to be bilateral. Six countries plus Iran participated in these talks. Maybe in the next talks over a security issue thousands of miles away, it might be fathomable for American policymakers for the U.S. not to participate at all. Critics of the deal who focus on Obama's perceived incompetence in negotiating or lack of interest in American security ignore that the deal was a multilateral one and so their Obama-centric complaints are flimsy. Countries like France, much closer to the range of potential Iranian nuclear weapons, didn't have an incentive to go along with a deal just because President Obama wanted one. They want with a deal because they, too, believed it was the best option. Congress should have a say in the deal—even if they've limited their involvement in the legislation they passed—but its members should understand Congress, and the U.S. government in general, is not the only one who gets to have a say.

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  1. If every single part of Obama’s deal consists of lifting sanctions that were put in place under the auspices of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, then the Senate was given the opportunity to consider the NPT in 1968–and they signed off on it then.

    If, however, any part of Obama’s deal represents a renegotiation of the terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty itself, then Obama’s isn’t legitimate unless two-thirds of the Senate votes to approve it–Non-Proliferation Treaty or no Non-Proliferation treaty.

  2. I know, right? It’s Obama, so the R’s are just bitching because he PWND them again and went straight to UN first.

    Of course, ALL THE TEAMS would bitch no matter WHICH president did this….cause it is kind of rude and….I bet on purpose. “Fuck ya’ll bitches – I’ll get to you when I’m done briefing people who WANT world peace.”

    What an asshole, in front of a whole building full of assholes, before he goes before another couple of buildings full of assholes.

    So – fuck ’em all.

    1. There’s no point in hoping that the Russians or the Chinese are going to save us. This plays right into their interests.

      France and the UK have their own problems, too.

      I’m against this deal, but usually I’d defer to the rule of law. Just because Obama’s deal is bad for America’s long term security isn’t necessarily a good reason to abandon the rule of law. If the NPT says they can implement sanctions without a vote of the U.S. Senate, then there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to lift them, too.

      On the other hand, this deal is sooooooooo very bad for American security long term, I’m actually willing to entertain arguments that the rule of law argument should be thrown out the window on this. Maybe it’s time for the Senate to start asking for forgiveness rather than permission. And if they fail? At least they’ll make Obama squander some of his political capital ahead of the Paris Global Warming Conference later this year. Obama has already promised to strike an agreement with the rest of the world at that conference–one that he says doesn’t require the Senate’s approval. Better to make him play that hand now.

  3. “Despite the several steps still needed just to begin implementing the deal, members of Congress are upset this multilateral deal may be considered by the Security Council before it’s considered by Congress.”

    Since when has Obama ever heeded the “steps needed to begin implementing” anything?

    They always ask for forgiveness rather than permission.

    I can’t be the only person to notice that as SOP.

    Maybe Roberts will give them permission a few years from now–once it’s a moot point. Can’t against things once they’ve been implemented, doncha know. That might reflect badly on the Court!

    1. I’m not sure they ask for forgiveness much anymore.

      1. Oh, yeah, and they get it from the Supreme Courts?

        Obama: “I can has forgiveness for giving state exchanges taxpayer money without any input from Congress?”

        Roberts: “Yes, once you do something, the question isn’t whether it’s okay. It’s how we’re going to justify it. Go forth and sin no more!”

        1. I shouldn’t bother trying to type with thumbs?

          I get random question marks and missing words among other things?

          Maybe every sentence should end with a question mark?

          Supreme Courtses?

          Let’s go Caps?

        2. True: I just meant that the Obama admin doesn’t seem too interested in apologizing for the unconstitutional expansion of executive power.

          1. Asking for forgiveness rather than permission is like an old business saying.

            It means Obama doesn’t really give a shit about the forgiveness or the permission.

            It’s what you do when all you care about is getting what you want.

            If I really want to sock another hockey player in the mouth, I don’t ask the coach for permission. I sock the the guy in the mouth and then tell the coach I’m sorry later.

  4. The Senate’s real fuck up here is that they negotiated away the treaty provision they have in the constitution. Instead of Obama having to earn the votes 2/3 of the senators present, now the burden is placed on the Senate to muster 2/3s of the members in order to nuke it.

    With the exception of Tom Cotton, everyone of them, including Rand and Cruz, voted to gut their constitutional authority. Rand’s defended this action while at the same time lamenting that more and more power from the other branches is being abrogated by the presidency.

    1. It seems pretty clear to me that they wanted to come out vocally against it without any possibility of that opposition resulting in anything.

      Iran has nuclear capability. That’s just reality. The question is how to sell that fact to the various publics involved and package it as the result of a grand plan of the US’s to have mercy on poor struggling Iran, who is finally coming to the table, and to present the US as a major, or at least relevant, player in this. Which it isn’t.

    2. Cruz didn’t vote it was 98-1.

      1. Cruz fought against it on procedural grounds at first, but voted for it on final passage.

        http://www.nationaljournal.com…..n-20150507

        http://newsmachete.com/?news=592

  5. Also,

    i”Countries like France….”

    Well – HELL YEAH! If the FROGS are in, that makes it…so much more compelling that it’s a good thing for the US to be in! Cause our interests any more are so closely aligned…and they’re such….useless…er….HELLO, DR. FREUD!….useful…..allies? “Friends”? “Former Acquaintances”? Something.

    Anyhoo….

    1. Well, I see my HTML isn’t helped AT ALL by dtastir…aahem…starting to DRINK early. Nor is my typing….

      Carry on!

  6. “Critics of the deal who focus on Obama’s perceived incompetence in negotiating or lack of interest in American security ignore that the deal was a multilateral one and so their Obama-centric complaints are flimsy.”

    I care about America’s interests. I care about American security.

    And the question isn’t simply the terms of the treaty. The question is why Obama caved when Iran was all but ready to capitulate.

    Why is Iran being free to enrich their own uranium under Obama’s agreement better for American security than Iran not be able to enrich their own uranium under the sanctions in place now?

    Why can’t Iran get uranium sufficiently enriched for civilian use either from the United States or their Russian allies?

    Why is the ability to enrich their own uranium so important to the Iranians that they would rather suffer a decade of economy crippling sanctions than abandon the ability to enrich their own uranium?

    There are no satisfactory answers to these questions if our primary concern is American security.

    So, why has Obama ignored those questions?

    “Countries like France, much closer to the range of potential Iranian nuclear weapons, didn’t have an incentive to go along with a deal just because President Obama wanted one.”

    France’s interests may not be the same as ours.

    No really.

    1. “There are no satisfactory answers to these questions if our primary concern is American security.

      So, why has Obama ignored those questions?”

      I suspect the answer is that Obama’s primary concern is not American security.

      I suspect it’s self-aggrandizement.

      Obama wants to make a legacy for himself as something like the new Jimmy Carter, and Obama doesn’t care if he needs to make like Chamberlain in order to accomplish that.

      As for American security?

      FYTW!

    2. I think you’re missing the central point of the article, which is that this wasn’t Obama’s show.

      “Why is Iran being free to enrich their own uranium under Obama’s agreement better for American security than Iran not be able to enrich their own uranium under the sanctions in place now?”

      Because they are going to anyway, and we look less weak if they do it with our permission, as opposed to without.

      “Why can’t Iran get uranium sufficiently enriched for civilian use either from the United States or their Russian allies?”

      The point was only ever to show that they can.

      “So, why has Obama ignored those questions?”

      They reveal his irrelevance to the process.

      1. “Because they are going to anyway, and we look less weak if they do it with our permission, as opposed to without.”

        I don’t think you understand Iran’s predicament.

        The sanctions have crippled them. They’re burned through the foreign currency reserves. If they don’t get access to international credit markets pretty soon, their economy is going to go from very bad to free fall.

        http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/458e…..z3g60xtDyU

        This is why Iran came to the negotiating table in the first place.

        Sure, they can continue to violate the NPT. And we can keep sanctions in place.

        Their continued refusal to abide by the NPT hurts them a whole lot more than keeping sanctions in place hurts us. Keeping sanctions in place hardly hurts us at all!

        So why take the pressure off?

        No good reason. Not from an American security standpoint anyway.

        And no, they weren’t going to keep enriching their own uranium indefinitely. Not after their economy goes into free fall.

        1. Go to this site, click on ten years, and look at the historical exchange rate of dollars per Iranian Rial.

          http://www.xe.com/currencychar…..D&view=10Y

          Can you see where the sanctions really started to kick in?

          That’s when they decided it might be a good idea to negotiate with the United States after all.

          1. It is not the United States that they are negotiating with. The US is *at* the table. The US could *not* be at the table. It is not their party.

            1. This is a silly objection.

              It is our party.

              They weren’t about to get the sanctions lifted without our support.

              The sanctions were put in place at our insistence.

              1. Yes, but the US is still not the only player at the table. China and Russia have not shown great interest in continuing those sanctions. I think you overestimate the importance of American interests on the world stage.

                As you say above, “There’s no point in hoping that the Russians or the Chinese are going to save us. This plays right into their interests.”

                One might go so far as to say that the Russians or Chinese are hardly even *motivated* to save us.

                Let’s say we double down on the sanctions, Trump style, and the rest of the world decides “meh” and starts buying Iranian oil and selling them uranium? How do we go about continuing to package ourselves as King of the World?

                Only by pretending to give our permission for this to happen.

                1. “Let’s say we double down on the sanctions, Trump style, and the rest of the world decides “meh” and starts buying Iranian oil and selling them uranium? How do we go about continuing to package ourselves as King of the World?”

                  If signatories to the NPR don’t want to be treated like Iran, they would be wise to abide by the provisions of the treaty.

                  The sanctions were approved within the auspices of the treaty and are, thereby, like part of the treaty.

                  Nuclear non-proliferation has been in the signatories’ interests for a long time, and the NPT has worked very well to deter the proliferation of nuclear weapons among signatories for a long time.

                  To whatever extent the signatories maintain an interest in nuclear non-proliferation, it remains in their interests to uphold the sanctions. Regardless, there isn’t any good reason to give up sanctions now–just after the sanctions drove Iran to the negotiating table and were about to make Iran capitulate.

                  We’re snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory for no apparent reason other than Barack Obama’s personal aggrandizement.

                  I certainly don’t believe the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, or the United States will be safer places because Iran gets to enrich its own uranium.

                  1. “just after the sanctions drove Iran to the negotiating table and were about to make Iran capitulate”

                    This is not the first time they’ve come to the table.

                    “I certainly don’t believe the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, or the United States will be safer places because Iran gets to enrich its own uranium.”

                    I agree. Sanctions aren’t stopping them.

                    1. Sanctions won’t stop them if there aren’t any, that’s for sure.

      2. “The point was only ever to show that they can.”

        I don’t understand what this is supposed to mean.

        To show that they can enrich their own uranium for civilian use?

        They were allowed to do that by the terms of the NPT!

        They violated the treaty when they started to enrich their own uranium in secret–in violation of the treaty.

        They’re not in jail because they own a gun. They’re in jail because they used their gun in an armed robbery. Now they’ve forfeited their right to own a gun according to the terms of the NPT–and even their allies who signed off on the sanctions.

        Is all this new to you?

        1. They are not in jail.

          They are in their garage playing with lathes and sifting piles of gunpowder. The US is being a gun-control advocate saying “DON’T MAKE A GUN NOW! OR ELSE WE WILL NOT BUY YOUR STUFF EVEN HARDER!”

          1. Did you look at what the sanctions did to their economy?

            To their currency?

            To their foreign exchange reserves?

            Yeah, we froze $100 billion in foreign exchange reserves that were sitting in banks located in signatories’ countries, but we don’t have to do it harder.

            We just have to keep doing it.

            They’re the ones suffering 20%-40% inflation. Halved exports. 25% unemployment. And all that about to get much, much worse when they burn through what’s left of their foreign currency reserves.

            We’re not suffering–at all.

            1. We’ve been on the brink of breaking Iran since I was in middle school. Which was back when Flock of Seagulls was still popular.

              You’re assuming that if we keep doing it, the rest of the world will too. Not an airtight assumption, but it is required for the program to keep “working.”

              1. You obviously haven’t looked at any of the links I’ve posted.

                The sanctions have been ramping up since Iran was found to be in violation of the NPT during the early part of the Iraq War.

                “Iran is a party to the NPT but was found in non-compliance with its NPT safeguards agreement and the status of its nuclear program remains in dispute. In November 2003 IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei reported that Iran had repeatedly and over an extended period failed to meet its safeguards obligations, including by failing to declare its uranium enrichment program.[22] After about two years of EU3-led diplomatic efforts and Iran temporarily suspending its enrichment program,[69] the IAEA Board of Governors, acting under Article XII.C of the IAEA Statute, found in a rare non-consensus decision with 12 abstentions that these failures constituted non-compliance with the IAEA safeguards agreement.[23] This was reported to the UN Security Council in 2006,[70] after which the Security Council passed a resolution demanding that Iran suspend its enrichment.[71] Instead, Iran resumed its enrichment program.[72]

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Treaty_on_the_Non-Proliferation_of_Nuclear_Weapons #Iran

                Flock of Seagulls was no longer popular circa 1986.

                The Sanctions at issue haven’t been in effect that long.

                1. “You obviously haven’t looked at any of the links I’ve posted.”

                  I have. I’ve just been hearing arguments for why Iran is on the verge of collapse for literally 30 years. I just don’t find them convincing anymore.

                  1. You don’t believe the exchange rate?

                    You don’t believe the inflation rate?

                    You don’t believe the unemployment rate?

                    You don’t believe any of these things have spiked?

                    You and Tony should go bowling.

      3. “So, why has Obama ignored those questions?”

        They reveal his irrelevance to the process.

        All of the sanctions that the other signatories of the treaty signed off on were proposed by the United States and the Obama Administration.

        Now we’re supposed to pretend that this is none of his fault?

        If this is a glorious opening to a new day of peace, then Obama should want all the credit for that, right?

        This is like when they started objecting to us calling the ACA “ObamaCare”. ’cause that wasn’t fair to Obama, you know–ObamaCare makes it sound like it was all his fault! Don’t tell me it’s a great deal, and then tell me that Obama’s fans are so ashamed of it, that they don’t want to see him take the blame.

        1. “If this is a glorious opening to a new day of peace, then Obama should want all the credit for that, right?”

          Yes – and that’s how it will be spun. And his enemies will spin it as “Obama’s pounding on the last nail in America’s coffin.” Neither is true. The truth is that much of the world spins along without much caring what is best for America.

          I general respect your opinion, but on this I think you’ve let your disgust with Obama cloud your vision, and you’re making him more important than he really is.

          1. Iran enriching its own uranium is not in the interests of American security, especially considering that they have a mature rocket program–and have already successfully launched satellites using multistage rockets.

            1. Agreed, but it was always a matter of when, not whether. IMO it is no worse than Israel, Pakistan and Khazakstand having them.

              1. Yes it is.

                For one, Iran is a state sponsor of terror.

                For another, Israel and Pakistan have been our allies.

                Pakistan was even on our side during the Cold War, and India sided with the USSR.

                For another, neither Israel nor Pakistan are signatories of the NPT. The world would be a better place if they were and lived by the treaty,.

                For another, Iran has what amounts to an active ICBM program.

                Iran is a much greater security threat to the U.S. than Israel, Pakistan, or Kazakhstan.

      4. Did we look less weak when North Korea unveiled its nuclear weapons? No it was a huge embarrassment that continues to be a huge embarrassment ever time North Korea sinks a South Korean ship without any fear of reprisal. Now Iran gets to sink Saudi and American ships with the same impunity. But that won’t be embarrassing at all.

        1. Yeah, and people should keep that in mind when they say that Obama’s deal will make war less likely.

          I think it makes conventional war much more likely, and much more likely to involve the U.S., too.

          Iran already has a proxy army in Hezbollah. Why not use it to expand their reach in the region and beyond?

          And if and when war breaks out, I hope people remember that holding fast on sanctions was the alternative to war. I’m not advocating that the U.S. invade and occupy Iran. I’m saying that holding fast on the sanctions that prevent Iran from enriching their own uranium is the best long term hope for peace.

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  8. This deal harkens back to the 18 century. The great powers make a deal affecting another part of thye world and leave those countries out in the cold.Israel,Saudi Arabia,the gulf states,Jordan and Egypt didn’t even get to sit at the kids table like at Versaillies.I see unexpected consequenes. The U.S. is already wanting to sell Israel and the Saudi Arabia more weapons. Yeah,this is going toturn out great.

  9. Disgusting that the senate is even opening their mouths. Lying sacks.

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