With passage of the Iran nuclear deal almost certain, the author argues that opponents in Congress should work to oversee its implementation rather than try and derail it, as imposing new sanctions would "would undermine the credibility of the United States and — because other countries will relax sanctions regardless of what Washington does — give Iran the opportunity to reap economic benefits while continuing its nuclear program."
Joel S. Wit argues that a key lesson from the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea is that implementation of nuclear agreements such as the nuclear deal with Iran requires careful attention to detail, and a plan for resolving disuptes from both sides to prevent disagreements from collapsing the nuclear deal.
Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, on Wednesday told 40 of the most conservative Republicans in Congress that the Iranian nuclear deal negotiated by the administration does little to protect Israel from aggression.
The author warns that a congressional vote against the nuclear deal with Iran could have far-reaching consequences even if it is not able to overcome a presidential veto as our allies will "be badly shaken if congressional action indicates that they cannot place trust in executive agreements reached with the United States."
Shortly after President Obama announced a nuclear deal with Iran on Tuesday many lawmakers were vowing to “undo” the agreement, ignoring the fact that even if lawmakers were to oppose his push, they have no real kill switch.
As talks on an Iran nuclear deal enter the final stretch, U.S. lawmakers are sharpening warnings against a "weak" agreement and laying down red lines that, if crossed, could prompt Congress to trip up a carefully crafted international pact.
One hundred and fifty House Democrats have now signed a letter expressing strong support for President Obama’s ongoing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, I’ve learned, improving the chances that an eventual nuclear deal could survive the Congressional oversight process.
However, even if Congress rejected a final agreement, Obama could take unilateral actions that — when coupled with European and U.N. sanctions relief — would allow a deal with Tehran to be implemented.
The president could suspend some existing U.S. sanctions with his waiver authority. He could issue new orders to permit financial transactions that otherwise are banned under current law. And he could simply take certain Iranians and entities, including nearly two dozen Iranian banks, off U.S. target lists, meaning they no longer would be subject to sanctions.
Only Congress can terminate its legislative sanctions. And those are some of the toughest penalties against Iran because they target its energy sector, central bank and key segments of its economy. But experts say Obama can neutralize the effect of some of those sanctions, too, and work with the Europeans to neutralize others.
Treasury official Adam Szubin told the House last month that the Obama administration doesn’t think congressional sanctions should be terminated for years to come — long after Obama leaves the White House — so that the U.S. continues to retain leverage over Tehran years into any final agreement.
There is significant precedent in American history for Congress and the White House to work together to renegotiate the terms of an international treaty or a non-binding agreement. Throughout American history, Congress has rejected or required amendments to more than 300 treaties and international agreements (of which about 80 were multilateral).8 This includes major bilateral and multilateral arms control and nuclear agreements during and after the Cold War. Our colleague at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Orde Kittrie, professor of law at Arizona State University and former lead attorney for nuclear affairs at the State Department, has studied the issue of congressional review of international agreements. His research found that presidents may argue that “the slightest change [to an agreement] … would unbalance the package and kill the treaty,” but that this has not been true in a vast majority of cases.9