Photo Credit: screen capture from
U.S. President Barack Obama

There are ways for Congress to block the current Nuclear Iran Deal, despite the numbers game everyone is engaged in. There are ways, but is there the will? The answer seems to be “yes” for opponents, all except the current members of Congress, none of whom seems to be ready to lead the fight where it’s needed: in Congress.

Ever since U.S. President Barack Obama’s Nuclear Iran Deal racked up the 34 Senators who will ward off efforts at a veto override, many people folded the deck and moved on to the next issue.


Even people adamantly opposed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action hammered out by Iran and acquiesed to by Secretary of State John Kerry and his negotiating team are acting as if, literally, it’s a done Deal.

But it isn’t.

There are currently circulating several proposals to send the negotiators back to the negotiating table. All of them rely on straight readings of the law. In fact, it is the administration that already voided the deal by failing to follow the procedures laid out in the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.

As former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy first pointed out on Sept. 5  in the National Review, and as Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS-4) and attorney David Rivkin pointed out in a Washington Post op-ed published on Sept. 6, the very first section of the INARA requires the president to provide Congress with the JCPOA, “including all related materials and annexes.’

Congress should have been given all information about the agreement, including that information which we now know is contained in the secret side deals, neither of which the President nor his negotiating team informed Congress existed. It was only by chance that Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) and Rep. Pompeo learned of the existence of those side deals from International Atomic Energy Agency employees in July, while meeting with them in Vienna

And providing the information now is too late, according to the INARA, as McCarthy points out: the act dictates that it was to have been done “not later than five days after reaching the agreement” — meaning July 19, since the agreement was finalized on July 14.

McCarthy’s article is a must-read. He provides additional ways in which the administration has mishandled its obligations under the INARA, which is the very legislation it relies on to claim victory once it attained 34 Senators. Ordinarily an international agreement like this one would require 67 Senators to support it for passage, but the INARA flipped that on its head, and required 67 Senators to oppose it in order to defeat the bill.

Pompeo and Rivkin’s formulation of how the administration has defaulted on its obligation under INARA is slightly different, although it also builds on their failure to provide the necessary information in a timely fashion to Congress.

According to this view, because the administration has failed to provide Congress with the secret side deal addressing the possible military dimensions of Iran’s former nuclear weapons program, the 60 day review period provided Congress under the INARA has not yet begun, and because that information had to be provided “to Congress between July 10 and September 7,” the window has closed.

There is yet another move to have the JCPOA be reclassified through litigation as a treaty, which the vast majority of legal and congressional scholars agree it clearly is.

There are still more legal maneuvers under consideration, all of which reveal an administration and its supporters so punch drunk on victory they failed to notice that a key element (or elements) they thought put the deal in the bag for them is actually the key to its unraveling.

But someone in Congress has to step forward and make the arguments. All the haranguing against the deal is meaningless unless it is actually defeated.



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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: [email protected]