Photo Credit: Iran press
Iranian ballistic missile launch. June 2017

President Trump’s refusal to recertify that Iran’s Ayatollahs comply with the July 14, 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal Framework (JCPOA), and that the agreement is in the US national security interest, removed the Ayatollahs’ peaceful “screen saver” and laid the ground to expose the Ayatollahs’ rogue reality.

President Trump acted in accordance with the May 22, 2015 bi-partisan Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which was enacted – in defiance of President Obama’s opposition – with a veto-override majority.


On the other hand, the multinational JCPOA – which produced unprecedented tailwind to Iran’s revolutionary goals – was engineered by President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, along with the other permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, China, Britain and France), Germany and the European Union.

President Trump’s non-certification provides Congress with an opportunity to reclaim its constitutional role as a co-equal and co-determining branch of government, while exposing the inherently rogue Ayatollahs, who have intensified instability, unpredictability, subversion, terrorism and wars in the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East at-large, Africa, Asia and other parts of the globe.

According to the first Article of the US Constitution, as documented in a following paragraph, the power of the US Congress is not limited to legislation and appropriation, but extends to oversight and review of the Executive Branch on the domestic and national security fronts: “Congress shall have power to… provide for the common defence…. Define and punish…offences against the law of nations. Declare war….raise and support Armies…. Provide and maintain a Navy. Make…regulations of the land and naval forces…. Suppress insurrections and repel invasions….”

Moreover, the second Article of the US Constitution provides the President with the power to commit the US to treaties with foreign entities – such as the JCPOA – but only with the advice and consent (ratification) of two thirds of the Senate. In 2017, the US Senate can reclaim this power which was dismissed, in 2015, by President Obama and conceded by Congress.

Congress demonstrated its posture as the world’s most powerful legislature, and its co-equal role in the shaping of the US national security policy, during many critical junctions in recent US history.  For example, the Senate has refused to ratify President Clinton’s 1999 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; Congress prevented the supply of AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) to Iran on the eve of the Ayatollah Khomeini revolution; the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV), foiled President Obama’s attempts to close down the Guantanamo detention camp; Congress authorized the 1991 and 2003 wars against Iraq; Congress terminated the US military involvement in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (the Eagleton, Cooper and Church Amendments), Angola (the Clark Amendment) and Nicaragua (the Boland Amendment; Congress overrode President Reagan’s veto, bringing down South Africa’s white regime; Congress overhauled the US intelligence community (Senator Church’s and Congressman Pike’s Committees); Congress  – in defiance of President Nixon – forced the USSR/Russia to allow free emigration (the Jackson-Vanik Amendment); etc..

When examining the impact of the JCPOA on the US national security, Congress should assess the dramatic erosion of the US posture of deterrence, as reflected by the surging geo-strategic posture of Russia. Both the Ayatollahs, as well as the pro-US Arab countries – especially Saudi Arabia, which recently concluded critical military transactions with Russia – consider the signing of the 2015 Agreement a reflection of unprecedentedly slackened US strategic reliability.

Congress should scrutinize the Ayatollahs’ systematic anti-US conduct since their 1979 toppling of the pro-US Shah, including their annual commemoration of the November 1979 takeover of the US Embassy in Teheran, which is highlighted by the theme of “Death to America.”

Congress should investigate the Ayatollahs’ school curriculum – the most authentic reflection of their mission and tactics, depicting the US as “the arrogant, idolatrous, modern-day crusader, infidel, oppressor, Great Satan.” Grade 12 Iranian students are taught – in “Religion and Life,” pages 103 and 104 – that dissimulation and tenuous pacts with “un-Godly governments” – such as the US – are proper, but only until the balance of power shifts in favor of the “believers.”  Furthermore, the need for child martyrdom, during the apocalyptic battle against the US, is intensively inculcated in all twelve grades.
Downplaying the significance of the Ayatollahs’ school curriculum – lest it undermine the pursuit of an agreement – would catapult Iran to an imperial position, and possibly usher in the first nuclear war.

While the US has rolled-back its sanctions on Iran, the Ayatollahs have rolled-forward their drive to evict the US from the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula through subversive, terroristic and military attempts of regime-change in pro-US Arab countries in the Persian Gulf – most notably Saudi Arabia and Bahrain – and beyond.

The mega-financial benefits from the JCOPA have enabled the Ayatollahs to expand their presence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, posing a growing threat to the pro-US regime in Jordan, while bolstering their presence in Africa and in Latin America, including Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and the terror-ridden tri-border region of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.

On the nuclear front – while rejecting US demands to allow international inspectors to visit military sites – the Ayatollahs have tightened their ballistic and nuclear collaboration with North Korea, co-developing and test-firing nuclear and ballistic technologies and systems, which may also be purchased. It allows circumvention of the monitoring of nuclear programs in Iran.

In 1978/79, the US energized the Khomeini Revolution, which transformed Iran from “the US policeman in the Gulf” to the US nightmare in the Middle East. In 2017, a determined Congressional oversight, and the resurrection of the US posture of deterrence – not diplomacy – could spare the globe of a most rogue anti-US regime and a potential nuclear war.

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Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger is consultant to Israel’s Cabinet members and Israeli legislators, and lecturer in the U.S., Canada and Israel on Israel’s unique contributions to American interests, the foundations of U.S.-Israel relations, the Iranian threat, and Jewish-Arab issues.