In an attempt to wrest some positive concessions from the Iranians in exchange for lifting sanctions against them under the Nuclear Iran Deal, an effort was made to require Iran to recognize Israel’s right to exist and to release American hostages from captivity through the form of an amendment on Thursday, Sept. 17.
Senate Democrats rejected the attempt, preferring to preserve the Nuclear Iran Deal in its current form, rather than to make even these limited demands on the Iranians.
The amendment was offered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The vote was 53 – 45, and 60 senators were needed to move the measure forward.
Only one Senate Democrat voted in favor of the Protect Israel and Free Our Prisoners amendment, Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Even the other three Democrats who publicly declared their opposition to the Nuclear Iran Deal, Sen. Bob Menendez (NJ), Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY) and Sen. Ben Cardin (MD) voted against the amendment.
ADMINISTRATION SEES REVIEW PERIOD AS ENDED
Under the terms of the Iranian Nuclear Agreement Review Act (Corker-Cardin), Sept. 17 was the final day on which Congress could stop the deal from moving forward by passing a disapproval resolution.
The Obama administration will likely be permitted to enforce this aspect of Corker-Cardin despite its own failure to comply with another substantive requirement, although why that should be so is a question that needs to be addressed.
The failure of the administration to provide Congress with all documentation of all aspects of the Nuclear Iran Deal was set forth very clearly in Corker-Cardin. Congress’s 60 day review period was to begin only after the White House provided those documents. It has not done so.
No documentation was provided to Congress regarding significant portions of the Deal, the so-called secret side deals that deal with Iran’s military site at Parchin and any possible military dimensions of Iran’s previous nuclear weapons program, as was revealed over the past several weeks.
Not a single member of Congress, including all of those who declared their support for the deal, read a single document or description of those side deals. Not only that, but even the vaunted nuclear physicist, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, did not have access ever to the details or description of those matters. To the extent that members of Congress relied on Moniz’s advice to support the deal, they did so despite his failure to ever lay eyes on those all-important side deals.
The Obama administration is certainly acting as if the work regarding the Nuclear Iran Deal is over and it will begin to go into effect next month.
US COORDINATOR OF NUCLEAR IRAN DEAL IMPLEMENTATION NAMED
On the same day that the Senate rejected protection of Israel and return of American hostages from Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry named former ambassador to Poland Ambassador Stephen D. Mull as Lead Coordinator for the Nuclear Deal Implementation.
In his announcement of Mull’s appointment Kerry noted: “as we move past the 60 day Congressional review period.” Some review period.
Kerry described Mull’s experience dealing with Iran’s nuclear program:
Steve played a key role in designing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929, which imposed additional nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, and marshalling support for its adoption by the Council. He also worked closely with the U.S. Mission to the IAEA in pressing for full accountability in Iran’s nuclear program. Steve traveled frequently to engage with foreign partners and worked across the U.S. government in support of our Iran-related efforts
There surely would have been intense criticism if Mull had not been involved in the Iran nuclear portfolio prior to this appointment. Still, having someone in the position of primary American coordinator for implementation of the Nuclear Iran Deal who oversaw a program that the administration said was insufficient to prevent Tehran from forging forward on its path to nuclear weapons is unsettling.
What is more unsettling, however, is that the administration did an end run around the majority of Congress which opposes the deal, as well as the majority of Americans, who also oppose the deal, in order to impose a new framework which guarantees Iran will become a threshold nuclear state.
The supporters of the Nuclear Iran Deal have worked overtime to prevent the Senate from actually expressing its view on the deal, even though it marks President Obama’s effort to fundamentally change the posture America has maintained for decades regarding power in the Middle East.