Obama’s Challenge with Congress: Same Goal, Different Paths





Since the White House sent the nuclear deal to Congress for its perusal, numerous discussions have opened up regarding disagreements between Congress and the Obama administration on this issue. But what is really the essence of these differences?

According to the Congressional bipartisan bill that Obama signed into law in May, the two legislatures — the House of Representatives and the Senate — have 60 days to review the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and then vote to approve or reject it. Previously, the U.S. Department of State announced in a statement that the 60-day window would begin on Monday, July 20.

Congressional oversight of the bill is taking place under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. Under this law, Congress has 60 days (if the agreement had been reached before July 9, it would have been 30 days) to study the agreement and finally put it to a vote. In the event that Congress should reject the deal, President Obama will have 12 calendar days to veto the agreement. If Obama does exercise his veto power, Congress will then have 10 calendar days to pull together a two-thirds majority that votes against the deal in the Senate and the House; at which point Obama’s veto, and the deal, will be nullified. Many reports have come out about the differences between Obama and Congress on this issue. But what is the real problem, and how are we to understand these differences of opinion?

If we look to the past and recall Obama’s speeches at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, in which he stated that he was interested in dismantling all the nuts and bolts of the Iranian nuclear program, it must be said that the White House and Congress are striving for the same goal by means of two different approaches. In truth, if these two institutions agree on nothing else, they agree on guaranteeing the security of the occupying regime in Jerusalem and opposing the Islamic Republic of Iran. The tactical disagreement between these two really just represents two sides of the same coin.

During the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, just 10 days before the unveiling of the Lausanne framework, U.S. Democrats and Republicans passed an anti-Iran bill with a decisive majority. At the same time, the White House announced that the president would veto such a bill.

During this time, reformist [Iranian] newspapers insisted that the White House and Congress were pursuing two entirely separate goals with headlines like, “Senate Raises Sanctions, Obama Vetoes,”* and “Obama: I Will Veto Congress Bills Hostile toward Iran,”* and now, they emphasize that a rift has opened up between the two.

On the other hand, based on a number of different documents that included statements from White House officials and Congressional representatives, the newspaper Kayhan reported on the division of labor between the administration and Congress, and what may be called a manufactured war between them in order to obtain as many concessions as possible from Iran.

Soon afterward, Congress passed the aforementioned bill and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced that, contrary to earlier statements, the president was prepared to sign the bill into law. In the end, President Obama approved this bill.

The truth is that Congress and the White House are aiming for the same objective by two different means, and in reality, the schism between them is entirely tactical.

To put it another way, even if Congress and the White House disagree on every other issue, they will never disagree on guaranteeing the security of Israel, opposing the Islamic Republic and preventing its progress wherever possible.

Therefore, carefully considering the prior actions of American officials, we must not put too much stock in these tactical disagreements, for in the end it will turn out just as I have outlined. Moreover, the current Iranian administration and Parliament should also exploit these differences as a tactical tool against the Americans.

Obama Runs His Mouth Again

While repeating his old claims, U.S. President Barack Obama said in an interview with the BBC: “We are settling the Iran deal, but we still have a big account that we’re going to have to work — hopefully some of it diplomatically, if necessary, some of it militarily.”

He also added, “The challenge is us making sure that we’ve got the interdiction capacity, the intelligence, that we are building a much stronger defense against some of these proxy wars and asymmetric efforts.”

Obama’s posturing that he would carry out a military strike on Iran comes at the same time as Western think tanks have repeatedly warned American officials about the consequences of taking such action.

Additionally, experts believe that American impotence in dealing with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the failure of regional policies against it, have in the end caused American officials to see the negotiating table as the only option to confront the Islamic Republic.

Former security officials of the Zionist regime say the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is a good deal for Israel.

In a [July 23] meeting of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew defended the final outcome of the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1.

Sen. Bob Corker, head of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, criticized the statements of administration officials who have said that the only [present] alternative to the deal is war. He claimed that a third option — a better deal with Iran — also existed.

“You guys have been bamboozled,”** Sen. Corker said, addressing John Kerry. Later in the session, John Kerry said, “One of the members of Israel’s internal security organization (Shin Bet) has defended the nuclear agreement and considers it a guarantee that Iran will not obtain a nuclear weapon. I think at least he has not been naive.”*

At the same time, the Washington Post reported, “Former Israeli security officials think JCPOA is good for Israel.”* Ami Ayalon, former head of Shin Bet, has said in this regard, “The agreement will provide a useful tool to preempt the Iran threat.” He added, “Many of my fellow countrymen do not see the strategic value of this agreement.”

According to Fars News Agency, Efraim Halevy, former head of Mossad, wrote on the front page of the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, “Anyone who has followed events in Iran in recent decades or has studied the matter, has to admit truthfully that he never believed Iran would ever agree to discuss these issues, let alone agree to each of the clauses I have mentioned.”

Halevy added, “If we think that the monitoring won’t be effective, the only other option is a military campaign that will only set back the Iranians for a limited number of years.”

Kerry: ‘New Sanctions Unrelated to the Nuclear Issue Would Not Violate the Agreement’

In a Senate hearing, John Kerry said, “Iran’s nuclear knowledge cannot be destroyed with bombs and sanctions … Imposing new sanctions unrelated to the nuclear issue would not violate the terms of the agreement.”*

“Most of the terms of the agreement will not expire with time,” Kerry added. “Because Iran is signatory to the NPT, some of these terms are permanent.”*

Later in the hearing, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said, “I can assure you this is not what Iran wanted. This agreement has distanced Iran from nuclear capability … My quotes on ‘anywhere, anytime’ are in the sense of a well-defined process and a well-defined timescale, and that’s what we have.”*

Iran’s $100 Billion in Blocked Assets, and Possible Access to $50 Billion

At another point in the same Senate hearing, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew claimed, “Iran’s assets frozen abroad total $100 billion, $50 billion of which would be immediately available to Tehran with the current deal. The money that is set to enter Iran after the agreement is in fact Iran’s own money, but I would like to emphasize that the gradual lifting of sanctions against Iran will not begin until the International Atomic Energy Agency confirms that Iran is carrying out its commitments. None of the sanctions on Iran will be lifted immediately. It will be a gradual process. Sanctions imposed due to human rights violations and terrorism will remain in place.”*

The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury claimed, “Human rights-related sanctions and sanctions against Iran’s support of terrorism will remain as they have been, and we can even impose new sanctions in this area.”*

According to news agencies, John Kerry and Ernest Muniz wrote in a joint statement in the Washington Post, “The plan approved in Vienna does not expire.” They further added that no country would be able to prevent the automatic snapback of sanctions against Iran.

First Iran’s End of the Deal, Then Sanctions Relief!

Kerry and Muniz added, “Before obtaining significant relief from economic sanctions, Iran must roll back its enrichment, its research and development, and its stockpile of enriched uranium. … economic sanctions will remain intact until Tehran has met its key commitments, which include removing the core of its reactor at Arak, disconnecting and locking away some 13,000 centrifuges, and shipping most of its enriched uranium out of the country.”

The statement later continued, “To preclude cheating, international inspectors will have unprecedented access to Iran’s declared nuclear facilities, any other sites of concern, and its entire nuclear supply chain, from uranium production to centrifuge manufacturing and operation.”

“We recognize that Iran remains a threat to stability in the Middle East,” Kerry and Muniz said. “That danger is precisely why this deal is so necessary and why we fought so hard for the multilateral arms embargo to remain in place for five years and the embargo on ballistic missiles for eight.”

The U.S. Department of State has claimed that Iran’s commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action go above and beyond those of the Lausanne agreement “in three broad areas including on weaponization, metallurgy and a number of enrichment-related issues.”

– In the text of this agreement are certain provisions that prevent Iran from carrying out specific activities that could be used to design and build a nuclear weapon.

– Iran has agreed to suspend the enrichment of uranium and plutonium for at least 15 years. Without developing this skill, Iran cannot produce the uranium or plutonium components of a nuclear weapon.

– Iran has agreed to turn over all of its uranium enriched to 20 percent that is not currently in the Tehran research reactor.

– Iran has agreed to allow inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency over all its production and stockpiles of heavy water.

– Iran has agreed to have only light water reactors, with the exception of the converted reactor at Arak.

– Iran has agreed to refrain from obtaining highly-enriched uranium or plutonium from outside the country for any purpose.

– Iran has agreed not to cooperate with other nations in the area of developing uranium enrichment technologies for the next 15 years.

At the same time, Democratic Sen. Benjamin Cardin said, “The reality is that compared to the framework established in April, this agreement is much stronger.”*

According to Fars News Agency, the Zionist newspaper Jerusalem Post wrote that Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs of the European Union, Helga Schmid, undertook a 24-hour journey to Tel Aviv immediately following the end of the negotiations in order to elucidate their outcome. During her visit to Israel, Schmid met with Yossi Cohen, national security adviser to the Israeli prime minister: Tzachi Hanegbi , chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee; and Dore Gold, director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Vienna Agreement Calms Saudi Arabia’s Concerns

According to reports, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jabir said in a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri: “The agreement between Iran and the P5+1 meets Saudi Arabia’s needs and relieves its concerns.” While the Saudi regime is mercilessly targeting innocent Yemeni women and children and committing war crimes, the Saudi minister accused Iran — a laughable claim — of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region. He stated that Saudi Arabia is hopeful that Iran will use the results of this agreement to improve its domestic situation.

The Possibility of American States Rejecting the Deal

News website Breitbart.com reports: “Surprise! The States Can Reject the Iran Deal”

This report added, “There is one effective way, however, that the Iran deal can be rejected: States and local governments can refuse to comply with it.”

*Editor’s note: The original quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.

**Editor’s note: The quotation is misattributed to Sen. Corker. It was delivered originally by Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho.

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