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Democrats Criticize Revival of Iran Nuclear Deal

Democrats Criticize Revival of Iran Nuclear Deal

Thursday, 7 April, 2022 - 09:15
Democrats during a press conference - AP

A year after the Vienna negotiations, lawmakers are strongly voicing their opposition against US President Joe Biden's quest to return to the nuclear agreement.

The opposition came this time from the Democratic Party, which has significant implications, although it has not effectively affected any potential deal with Iran.

Democrats held a press conference to express their opposition to any possible agreement with Tehran that would bring it back to the 2015 nuclear deal concluded by the former administration of President Barack Obama.

Over 15 representatives raised critical concerns about the looming Iran deal, warning that lifting sanctions on the Iranian regime would release funds that Tehran will allocate for its terrorist activities.

Congressman Josh Gottheimer said Iran has proven that it cannot be trusted.

"The IRGC, Iran's paramilitary terror arm, has directly, or through their proxies including Hezbollah, Hamas, and PIJ, killed hundreds of Americans and attacked our bases and our allies in the region."

Congresswoman Elaine Luria warned that the US could not afford a new failed agreement, strongly opposing any deal that does not entirely prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and does not protect the Middle East region and the world.

Luria expressed her deep concern about repeating the failed agreement negotiated by the Biden administration, cautioning that it will strengthen Iran and threaten Israel's security and global security.

The press conference paves the way for more voices opposing the agreement, especially among conservative Democrats, to join the Republicans who have repeatedly expressed their strong opposition to the talks.

The Republican representatives showed solidarity with their fellow Democrats opposing the agreement and, in turn, held a separate press conference to express their opposition to any deal with Tehran.

Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, headed by Michael McCaul, stated that the Biden administration is on the verge of reaching a weak nuclear deal with Iran and violating US law because it will not send the agreement for a Congressional vote.

Can Congress block the deal?

The short answer is No

Congressional sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that although Congress passed the "Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (INARA)" in May of 2015 after the Obama administration approved the agreement, the Biden administration worked hard to make it look like any new agreement with Tehran was an extension of the first agreement, with the aim of avoiding a vote at the Congress.

On May 14, 2015, Congress passed the INARA Act by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 98 senators out of 100 and 400 representatives out of 435 in the House of Representatives.

The law obligates the US administration to put any new nuclear agreement with Iran to a vote, said the sources, adding that the lawmakers fear the Biden administration will claim this agreement is not unique to put for a vote.

Opposing lawmakers may use another maneuver to try to block the agreement.

They plan to put forward a bill to veto the deal as they did in 2015 when 269 deputies voted against the agreement in the House of Representatives and 56 senators against it in the Senate.

However, they couldn't obstruct the bill because that requires a two-thirds majority of votes in the Senate and House of Representatives, and as of now, there are not enough Democrats in opposition.

The Senate needs 60 votes to formally object to a deal of this type, which means that 10 Democrats must vote against it with all Republicans.

Republicans warn that the next Republican president will withdraw from the agreement, as former President Donald Trump did.

Over 200 Republicans wrote a letter to Biden last month, saying that any agreement in Vienna without congressional approval will face the same fate as the 2015 agreement.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz told Asharq Al-Awsat that opponents of Biden's approach to the nuclear agreement would resort to any tools they had to obstruct the administration's agenda.

Democrats voiced their concern about the recurrence of a scenario of this kind and its impact on the credibility of the United States.

Democratic Congressman Ritchie Torres believes there would be "bipartisan opposition" to the renewed nuclear deal with Iran.

"I worry about an endless cycle of a Democratic president renegotiating the Iran deal, followed by a Republican president who withdraws from it. We should have an agreement that can stand the test of time", Torres said.

Lawmakers say the only way to prevent the next president from abandoning the deal is to put it as a "treaty" in the Senate and formally vote on it.

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