(/sites/default/files/uploads/2015/03/iran-nuclear-talks.jpg)Much is being made of the letter signed by 47 U.S. Senators, all of them Republican, aimed at schooling Iranian leaders in the requirements of the U.S. Constitution.
Secretary Kerry said his reaction was “utter disbelief” that the Senators would “go behind” the back of the administration during a delicate international negotiation. Some on the American Left called it “treason,” conveniently forgetting that some of their own (including Kerry, as a junior Senator) have met with enemy foreign leaders in defiance of a president of the other party on many occasions.
In an exchange with Sen. Marco Rubio at Wednesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Secretary Kerry said he had shared details of the negotiations with the Saudis and other Sunni allies, but that he wouldn’t do the same with Congress.
But Congress can just tune in the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s English language website to learn the secrets of the deal Secretary Kerry won’t reveal to them.
Addressing the Republican Senators who signed the letter, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warned that a “change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor…
“I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with the stroke of a pen, as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.”
Zarif went on to reveal details of the agreement that the Obama Administration has so far kept from Congress.
His statement emphasized “that if the current negotiation with P5+1 result[s] in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.”
Let me spell that out: The Obama administration has told Congress that it won’t submit the nuclear agreement with Iran for Congressional approval, but now Zarif is saying that it will be submitted to the United Nations, to form the basis of a United Nations Security Council resolution, presumably aimed at lifting UN sanctions on Iran.
That was too much even for Sen. Bob Corker (R, Tenn), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who pointedly refused to join his colleagues in signing the Iran letter, even though the Senate Republican Leadership, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, had.
“There are now reports that your administration is contemplating taking an agreement, or aspects of it, to the United Nations Security Council for a vote,” Corker wrote on Thursday to Obama.
“Enabling the United Nations to consider an agreement or portions of it, while simultaneously threatening to veto legislation that would enable Congress to do the same, is a direct affront to the American people and seeks to undermine Congress’s appropriate role,” he added.
Can Obama legally circumvent Congress and go directly to the United Nations?
Undoubtedly, just as he could ignore multiple U.S. laws – and his own statements – that prevented him for granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens by Executive Order.
But if the Iranians really believe they can find sanctuary from Congress in Turtle Bay, former White House speech writer Marc Thiessen suggests they should think again.
“The US constitution trumps international law. The US constitutional trumps the United Nations, ” he told FoxNews anchor Megyn Kelly on Thursday. “The Supreme Court has actually ruled on this.”
It should be crystal clear to anyone observing the U.S.-Iran charade what Tehran wants from these talks: absolute victory over the United States.
Iran’s “moderate” president Hassan Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator himself, said it the day the November 2013 agreement was announced: “In #Geneva agreement world powers surrendered to Iran’s national will,” he tweeted victoriously.
Some have mistaken Iranian statements about “red lines” and rhetoric about safeguarding “scientific achievements” to mean that a sugar-coated agreement that would allow Iran to save face, all the while imposing meaningful limits of Iran’s nuclear program, is all that’s needed for peace in our time.
That simply misreads the tea leaves in Tehran.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who ironically may not live to see an agreement signed, has been driving the negotiations from behind the scene.
On several occasions, he has publicly steered his negotiators away from certain concessions, and succeeded in getting the U.S. – not Iran – to give way.
When the negotiations began, the U.S. was insisting that Iran comply with five United Nations Security Council resolutions and suspend all uranium enrichment. Now the discussion is on how many centrifuge Iran can spin, and more importantly, how many new generation (and more efficient) centrifuges Iran can install.
On issue after issue, it’s the United States – not Iran – that has given way. When Iran got caught violating the terms of the November 2013 agreement within the first two months, by enriching fresh batches of uranium to 20%, the United States pretended not to notice.
When the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that Iran had produced fresh batches of 20% uranium on Jan. 20, 2014, no one called it a violation, highlighting instead Iranian steps to convert a portion of the 20% uranium into fuel rods for a research reactor.
Anyone who was been observing Iran’s nuclear cheat and retreat over the past twenty years recognizes the pattern: Iran is constantly pushing the limits, and when they get called out, they take a step backwards until they think we are no longer watching, when they do it again.
And we never punish them. Not ever.
So what does “victory” look like from Tehran?
Two words: Sanctions relief.
This is the deal-maker for the Iranian regime, the one thing they want so bad they actually will make concessions to achieve it.
But wait: even though the Iranians claim the sanctions are unjust, and that all the sanctions imposed over the past two decades must be removed instantaneously for a deal to be signed, that does not mean they will walk away if some sanctions stay in place.
“What they really care about are the financial sanctions,” an Iranian businessman familiar with the way the Tehran regime moves money told me. “As long as they can use and move dollars, the rest they don’t care about.”
Iran has lived so long with sanctions on dual use technology and weapons procurement that they have learned how to get around them. “They can get anything they want,” the businessman told me. “It may cost them 5 percent or 10 percent more, but they consider that the cost of doing business.”
So be prepared for a last minute, Hail Mary deal that will lift financial sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iranian promises not to build the bomb.
If such a deal will prevent or even delay a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East is anyone’s guess.
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