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GOP’s Last Shot At Iran Deal

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GOP’s Last Shot At Iran Deal


Since he began his campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to undo the multi-national agreement that has frozen Iran’s ability to build a nuclear weapon.

“My number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran,” Trump said recently.

In June, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded with his own inflammatory rhetoric, referring specifically to Trump’s most recent attack on the agreement. “We do not violate the deal, but if the other party violates it, if they tear the agreement up, we will light it on fire,” Khamenei said.

Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was more circumspect. The accord, Zarif said, “is not an Iran-U.S. agreement for the Republican front-runner or anybody else to renegotiate. It’s an international understanding annexed to a Security Council resolution.”

It’s unclear whether Trump knows the accord was negotiated by the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council—the United States, China, Russia, France, and the United Kingdom—plus Germany. His grasp of foreign policy seems tenuous, at best.

It’s also unclear if he is aware of what the accord means to the U.S. economy.

In mid-June Boeing reached a tentative agreement to sell 80 commercial airplanes, and to lease an additional 29, to Iran Air. The agreement would have the American company building and delivering planes for 10 years (beyond the end of Trump’s second term in office) and is valued at $25 billion.

President Obama made the commercial aircraft deal possible, as officials in the Treasury Department issued a special permission for Boeing to negotiate with Iran, to avoid handing over the entire Iranian market to the European consortium Airbus.

Would President Trump deliver on his campaign promise if it forced the abrogation of a $25 billion deal and surrendered a lucrative market to a European business rival?

Perhaps. Absolute opposition to improved relations with Iran has been a canonical position for Republicans since Vice President Dick Cheney slapped down a 2003 proposal the Swiss ambassador delivered on behalf of Iran—to begin bilateral negotiations with the United States on Iran’s nuclear program, its hostile posture toward Israel, and handing over terrorist suspects then in Iranian custody.

Like Cheney, congressional Republicans believe “you never negotiate with your enemy.” They went to unprecedented extremes to derail the agreement, including inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an implacable opponent of the accord, to address a joint session of Congress.

They narrowly lost, despite a $40-million campaign attacking the accord. Progressive organizations including J Street, Women’s Action for New Directions, the Ploughshares Fund, and MoveOn organized a national effort that built a Democratic majority in the Senate to support the President’s initiative.

With time running out, the Republicans in Congress have one last shot at Barack Obama’s most significant foreign policy achievement. (They failed in May, when the Senate voted down an amendment to an Energy Department spending bill by Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton, which would have prohibited U.S. purchase of heavy water from Iran. Heavy water is a key component in nuclear weapons development, and its purchase is part of the denuclearization of Iran.)

Republicans will now target the Iran Sanctions Act, which provided the leverage for the negotiations that led to strictly monitored limits on the fissile material Iran is allowed to possess. The act expires in 2016.

Congress is certain to extend the law, Barbara Slavin, the director of the Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative, said at a WAND webinar on the one-year anniversary of the negotiated agreement. The  sanctions act is critical, Slavin said: “What will it look like and what other sanctions will be added?”

The accord with Iran is based upon a simple premise: “Iran will shrink its nuclear program and we will shrink out sanctions.”

Republicans will attempt to add sanctions, or to extend the sanctions bill beyond a “transition day” written into the accord. On transition day, if the International Atomic Energy Agency monitoring Iranian nuclear activity issues a clean bill of health, all nuclear-related sanctions will be lifted.

Extending sanctions beyond the October 2023 transition date, or adding sanctions, will be read by the Iranians as a signal that Congress isn’t serious about the United States honoring the agreement it negotiated, Slavin said.

Iran, thus far, has honored its obligations. There have been no violations detected by the IAEA onsite, or by U.S. and European intelligence agencies monitoring from afar. Two IAEA reports have described Iran as in full compliance with all conditions stipulated in the accord.

Look for several congressional Republicans to get behind an amendment intended to kill the agreement.

If the amendment passes, look for Ayatollah Khamenei to light the agreement on fire.


Image Credit: European External Action Service



  1. Insinnergy August 12, 2016

    “His grasp of ………….. seems tenuous, at best.”

    This should totally be his tagline. Just fill in the blank as needed.

  2. Lynda Groom August 12, 2016

    Oh tell me that it isn’t true that the GOP will try and mess this up yet again. Success seems to be something that they just can’t allow to happen under a democratic president. Gee, why is that anyway????

    1. Eleanore Whitaker August 12, 2016

      Well, the Republicans are now two for two…2 Dem presidents, 2 attempts at impeachment. Any takers Hillary will be No. 3? The back room boys of the GOP are not about to keep their mouths shut and their noses out of business they have no right to interfere with. So, our guess is that unless Hillary comes up with a way to FORCE the ENFORCER Republicans to stop their government obstruction, Americans have only one choice. Do what they had to do with Nazi War criminals, haul them en masse into court and put them in prison.

    2. Sand_Cat August 12, 2016

      They’re pretty good at messing up success with a Republican president, too, especially when acting with his wholehearted support.

  3. Eleanore Whitaker August 12, 2016

    Several things about the GOP come to mind here. 1. Cotton brokering a deal with Israel to dismantle the Iran Peace Treaty. 2. The GOP having the gall to allow Netanyahu to address a session of the US House of Representatives. 3. Israel’s Netanyahu daring to embarrass a US President while holding out his hand for US tax dollars equal to $50 billion.

    Smell that sedition anyone? If you were 007, you wouldn’t hesitate to make the connection between GOP sedition and their allowing foreign influence into government proceedings.

    Let me know when Netanyahu allows Hillary Clinton to visit Israel and bash hell out of him. Even better, let me know when Netanyahu allows McConnell or Eddie Munster Ryan to address the Nesset.

    If this is an example of Israel’s chutzpah, it is in overdrive and encouraging Republicans to defy the Executive branch of government over which they have only minimal control.

  4. rednekokie August 12, 2016

    Even if the Republicans manage to wreck the peace deal with Iran, causing more problems, I doubt that the American public will realize that the Republican Congress is, and has always been, the problem, not the solution.
    For almost two presidential terms, they have done nothing but create sedition in the government. Absolutely the most worthless Congress in the country’s history.

  5. charleo1 August 12, 2016

    A great example of what a Trump foreign policy would look like, be driven by. Non factual assessments, unrealistic demands, followed by bombastic and unhinged threats of a war who’s consequences would be so dire, so disastrous as to be ridiculous, laughable, if they weren’t being propagated by a madman who had somehow gained control of the most powerful military in the World. And if we thought Iraq was fun, was the right thing to do. Was worth all the blood and treasure expended, and the regional chaos that has issued. We should be eager to fight the next one. And this time do it right. Conquer, occupy, colonize, divvy up the spoils, enforce the peace, stay for a thousand years! But, we should know this. That this one, after the last one, after the first erroneous claims of WMDs, as a premise for a grab for oil. We’ll be getting to have all the, “fun,” of invading this one, and picking up the tab, all by ourselves. This comparative giant of a Country, Iran. (635,000 square miles,) Some 77 million souls, with its well equipped military, and its alliances, including among them, thanks to George Bush, the same Iraqi Army we stood up, equipped, trained, and are fighting along side this very minute against ISSL in N. Iraq, Libya, and civil war torn Syria.
    Well surely if we got in trouble, our NATO Allies would come to our aid? Under a Trump Presidency, where promises of mutual defense are tied to tribute, to monies paid for protection. Where friend’s security as Nations is expressed in terms of dollars and cents, and not as principles for peace, stability, democracy, or human rights. In that World, we can’t just assume things. Promises, alliances, and treaties, become as brittle as piecrust. As arbitrary, and mercenary as the bottom line on a ledger sheet. So calculations must be made, accommodation with other entities considered, sides chosen carefully.
    Of course many disagree. Many are saying they think it’s really important we have a President and Commander in Chief, who’s never had any experience at all in gov. In foreign policy, nuclear policy, negotiating international treaties of any sort. In fact they believe, the less governmental experience the better! One who has never had to work within a system of checks, and balances, would be more independent. A President isn’t affected by political correctness, as he makes history changing decisions effecting the of lives, or perhaps deaths of billions of people on the Planet. As they head up the day to day operations, and various agendas of the most influential country in the World. Better if the person could be found that had never been to Washington the Capitol City at all! Lest they become infected with whatever infects those when they become politicians.

    1. Jon August 12, 2016

      Donald Trump was just joking and being sarcastic. heh heh heh He thinks it is funny that anyone actually believed he was serious.

  6. ChangeIranNow August 12, 2016

    Oh please…Iran disregarded the clauses related to inspections right off the bat by requiring soil collection by themselves and not the UN. It also violated clauses related to inspection of military facilities by declaring them off limits to inspection. It also violated the timeline for reducing the stockpile of 2% enriched uranium by actually increasing the stockpile. Also by excluding ballistic missiles, sponsorship of terrorism and human rights violations from the JCPOA, it basically gave Iran a blank check to continue abuses in those areas.


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