I’ve been following the Iran nuclear talks in some detail for a while. While I was heartened by the possibility that the Senate could actually be moved to do something useful for the country, I’m reluctantly concluding that the Corker-Menendez bill is just another example of Failure Theater by the GOP. In other words, they have decided to let Obama do what he wants to do while giving us rubes in the cheap seats the perception that they fought tooth and nail. While the spin is that Obama folded in face of a veto override, the fact is that the Corker-Menendez doesn’t prevent Obama from removing sanctions or cutting a horrible deal with Iran.
Nothing in Corker-Menendez prevents Obama from modifying sanctions down to nothing. The original Iran gives the President the authority to determine what, if any, sanctions apply. Corker-Menendez leaves that provision in place. If Congress doesn’t agree with Obama removing sanctions it can try to pass more restrictive legislation but that required enough votes for a veto-override.
State sponsor of terrorism
Iran remains one. Obama remains unconcerned that a terrorist state might get a nuke. Corker-Menendez caves on Iranian terrorism.
2) Under the new framework, the president would certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran is complying with the final deal, but he would no longer have to certify that Iran had not directly supported a terrorist attack targeting an American or American business.
No effect on the deal
The deal itself is horrible and guarantees the Iranians may be only a few months away from having enough fissile material to build a weapon.
Wednesday 25th — the Wall Street Journal revealed that Iran will be allowed to put off making a full disclosure of its nuclear activities until after sanctions relief — now the ISIS assessment on disclosure: “Negotiators must not agree to lift UNSC sanctions before the IAEA has reached its broader conclusion about the peaceful nature of Iran’s program, including determining the extent of past progress on Iran’s military nuclear program and dismantling any remaining efforts… Unless this facet of Iran’s nuclear program is dealt with, no agreement should be made. It is a deal component that negotiators would ignore at the peril of regional security and peace.”
Thursday 26h — the Associated Press revealed that Iran will be allowed to continue spinning centrifuges in its underground military bunker at Fordow — now the ISIS assessment on Fordow: “A surprise in the Framework is the proposed continuation of the Fordow enrichment plant… If bans on producing near 20 percent LEU also sunset at year 15 (see above), this heavily fortified plant would be capable of producing enough weapon-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon within a few weeks, or enough WGU for two weapons in less than a month.”
Monday 29th — the New York Times revealed that Iran will not be forced to ship its enriched uranium beyond its borders — now the ISIS assessment on stockpiles: “How will this material be disposed of so that the limit is not exceeded?… accumulations of more than 500 kilograms of 3.5 percent LEU above the 300 kilogram limit would lower breakout times significantly below 12 months… If Iran accumulates stocks of 3.5 percent LEU hexafluoride above 1,000 kilograms and can access quickly only 50 kilograms of near 20 percent LEU hexafluoride, it could reduce breakout times to less than six months.”
An easily readable analysis by ISIS (the think tank, not the terror group, though at this point no one would surprised to learn that Obama was negotiating to give ISIS a nuke or had made them part of his Iran negotiating team) can be found here. I encourage you to take a look at it.
Obama has to submit a deal for approval but the bill doesn’t prevent him from going ahead with a deal that Congress doesn’t like.
Corker had two choices: a) he could take a stand on the side of preventing Iran from having nuclear weapons, b) he could create a cover vote while punting the decision. He chose the latter.
Under a worst case scenario, a tough Iran bill, one that stripped Obama of the right to modify Iranian sanctions without Congressional approval, would not have passed Congress. Such a bill would have brought the imminent Iran agreement into line with treaty negotiations by requiring Senatorial assent to a key element and thus the whole agreement would have been subject to hearings. If Obama vetoed the bill, it would be obvious that the deal and the responsibility was his alone.
Corker-Menendez gives Obama the green light to remove sanctions and finalize a deal once he makes required certifications to Congress. Giving his track record of callously lying to Congress about anything and everything there is not doubt that certification is forthcoming. In doing so, it makes Congress complicit in the negotiations and final agreement.
Corker-Menendez allows the Senate to say “we did our part” and shift the complete responsibility, and need I say power, of allowing Iran to become a nuclear state to Obama. History will not judge Corker kindly. When the first Iranian nuke pops somewhere within reach of their existing ballistic missiles that blood will be on Corker’s hands and he will regret being too clever by half.