US Senators’ Support For The Iran Nuclear Accord Growing

US Senators’ Support For The Iran Nuclear Accord Growing

Senator Thomas Carper (D-Del) is now the 30th Senate Democrat to come out in support of the Iran nuclear accord, moving US President Barack Hussein Obama a step closer to having enough backing to ensure the deal holds.

Mr. Obama is trying to muster 34 votes in the Senate so that lawmakers cannot kill the deal. The 30 senators in support of it are all Democrats and independents who vote with Democrats.

Senator Carper explained his decision to endorse the Iran accord in an opinion piece for The News Journal of Delaware.

“America and our five negotiating partners — Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — have reached an historic agreement with Iran to end their pursuit of nuclear weapons for years and, maybe, forever,” he explained.

“The deal provides Iran an opportunity to rebuild its economy and shed the pariah status it’s borne for decades, a status that belies the culture and history of that nation,” he said.

Senator Carper said that he considered the opinions of his constituents before making his decision to support the deal.

Delaware Senator Chris Coons, also a Democrat, is expected to make an announcement about the Iran deal on 1 September in a speech at the University of Delaware in Newark.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is reportedly undecided about whether she will support the nuclear deal.

Congress must vote on the deal by 17 September.

I expect that this is how votes are likely to play out, as follows:

When Congress returns after Labor Day on 8 September, debate will begin on a Republican-sponsored “resolution of disapproval” against the deal In the Senate, Republicans must gather 60 votes to move the resolution forward under Senate procedural rules.

If they can, they will then need a simple majority of 51 votes in the upper chamber to approve the resolution. It would pass, because Republicans control a majority of Senate seats and most have already come out against the accord.

There is no similar procedural process in the House of Representatives. The resolution is expected to easily win approval there. Republicans hold 246 seats in the 435-seat House.

If both chambers approve the resolution, it would go to Mr. Obama’s desk for review, he will veto it.

Then the opponents of the accord would move to override the veto. This would take a 2/3rds majority vote in each congressional chamber. The Senate has 100 members; the House, 434, plus 1 vacant seat.

Democrats could block an override in the Senate with 34 votes. So far, 30 senators have committed to voting in favor of the accord, 31 have said they will oppose it.

In the House, if Republicans voted unanimously against the deal, they would need to get at least 44 Democrats to vote with them to override Mr. Obama’s veto.

The Iran deal is not a treaty, so it does not need the 2/3rds vote in the Senate to be ratified. The “resolution of disapproval” mechanism was included in a law Mr. Obama signed in May giving Congress the right to weigh in on the milestone UN world powers nuclear deal with Iran.

If Congress were to pass a resolution of disapproval and override a veto, Mr. Obama would be barred from waiving most of the US sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear program. Proponents of the agreement say this would kill the deal from the US side.

However, with the US Congress’ ability to play a spoiler role comes not only from the power it has to scuttle the deal altogether, but also from its efforts at fostering an uncertain atmosphere regarding the removal of sanctions on Iran.

The effectiveness of the nuclear deal will rely largely on the 6 UN world powers ability to instill confidence in the global business community that sanctions have been removed and the country is open for business.

Truly removing sanctions in a way that would have tangible benefits for Iran requires shaping expectations in such a way that businesses do not feel their investments are precarious and susceptible to the political machinations of the US Congress or a future US President.

For the deal to be successful

Now it is Key for Iran to derive real and substantial benefits from sanctions relief. President Hassan Rouhani’s administration has hedged its legacy, and by extension that of pragmatism in Iran, on being able to deliver economic prosperity to 80-M Iranians. The nuclear deal and normalizing Iran’s relations with the West have been viewed as the Key ingredient to accomplishing this goal.

The successful conclusion of the nuclear talks has led to the development of a new pragmatism in Iran, personified by prominent decision-makers who have more sober and practical views on foreign and domestic policy.

This phenomenon has seen the joining of political figures who hail from historically opposing camps, namely the moderate Rouhani and the principalist speaker of parliament Ali Larijani, This alliance is a significant development in Iran’s political landscape and has positioned pragmatism as a palpable political force in Iran.

What should be of the most importance to Western policymakers is that the prospect for a more cooperative Iran rests with them reciprocating Iran’s pragmatic outreach proportionately.

For their efforts thus far, the pragmatists, led by the President and the Speaker, have garnered vociferous criticism from hard-liners, who accuse them of having given far too many concessions on the nuclear program.

If there was nothing to show for these concessions, pragmatism would be marginalized and Iran would be forced to retract from its commitments. Thus, durable sanctions relief is critical to ensuring a more amicable Iran.

If recent headlines are accurate, it appears as if European investors are not too concerned about the possibility of future sanctions, given that they are already in Tehran and setting up business in anticipation of the country opening-up. This is seen as the most important opening-up since China.

Iran is the 2nd largest economy in the Middle East behind Saudi Arabia.

However, the Obama administration and the rest of the UN world powers should be cognizant that the efficacy of sanctions lies in the willingness to remove them to maintain a compromise. They would be wise to confront any issues that would prevent Iran from attaining the scale of sanctions relief outlined in the agreement.

If the US Congress’s overrides the deal it would surely lead to radicalism once again at the expense of pragmatism in Iran. The nuclear accord has the potential for far-reaching positive implications for the volatile Middle East region and for Iran’s relations with the West.

Have a terrific weekend.


Paul Ebeling


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