Senate Iran deal set for vote

The contentious Senate Iran Nuclear Review Act is set for a final vote as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) seeks to move to other legislative priorities. Insurgent campaigns by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) to add amendments to strengthen the stipulations on Iran were widely frowned upon and met with very little support.

The move represents a major win for a bipartisan compromise forged by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Ben Cardin (D-Md.). Their bill would allow Congress to vote on whether to lift legislative sanctions on Iran that will be the linchpin of any nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. Opponents of a nuclear deal would have to muster veto-proof majorities to block Obama from lifting such sanctions, though a future president could also decide to scuttle any deal made this year if Iran is found to be violating terms of the deal.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at recent threats of military action against Iran related to naval brinkmanship in the Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Hormuz:

“Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, vowed on Wednesday that his nation would leave nuclear negotiations if it feels threatened by America’s armed forces. ‘Recently U.S. officials threatened to take military action against Iran,’ Khamenei tweeted. . . . U.S. need for the #talks – if not more – is not less than #Iran’s,’ Khamenei wrote. ‘Negotiators should observe red lines & tolerate no burden, humiliation & threat,’ he added.”

Count Hezbollah among those celebrating the Iran Nuclear Deal, as Ibrahim al-Amin, editor of the pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al-Akhbar, has been lauding the “win” by the Iranians:

As has been the case throughout history, there is “a victor and vanquished.” The end result of the decades-long conflict between Iran and the West was clear: the West has capitulated.

Amin drew on Obama’s April 2nd Rose Garden address, and noted that the president presented two choices: either this deal or war. Clearly, Amin added, war was not a realistic choice for Obama. So, in truth, he had no choice but to yield. For Hezbollah and its Iranian patrons, Obama’s talking point about the lack of alternatives to this deal revealed a fundamental truth. They understood — quite accurately — that the White House had no chance of succeeding in the negotiations if it was not willing to strike Iran, if it had to. Either force was on the table or it wasn’t. The Iranians and Hezbollah had concluded that, for Obama, this was never an actual choice.

The June 30 deadline for a final deal looms as the final sprint for negotiations is set to begin. Whether the myraid of issues peripheral to Iran’s Nuclear Program–Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Israel–scuttle the talks is anyone’s guess.


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