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One Congressman's Iran

Posted on July 30, 2015 at 5:25 PM

United States, New York Times


Representative Sander M. Levin, Democrat of Michigan and the longest-serving Jewish member of the House, said something important this week: “In my view, the only anchors in public life are to dig deeply into the facts and consult broadly and then to say what you believe.”

His words were important for two reasons. First, they defied a prevalent political culture of ignoring inconvenient facts, consulting narrowly if at all, and never saying what you believe when it’s not what your constituency wants to hear. Second, his statement concerned Iran, an issue where fact-based reasoning on Capitol Hill and beyond tends to take second place to preposterous posturing — as per Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s statement that the nuclear deal with Tehran would march Israelis “to the door of the oven.”

Levin’s reflection led him to the sober, accurate conclusion that the agreement is “the best way to achieve” the goal of preventing Iran from advancing toward a nuclear weapon, an outcome that will make Israel, the Middle East and the world “far more secure.” Not the ideal way, the perfect way, or a foolproof way, but, in the real world of ineradicable Iranian nuclear know-how, the best way attainable.

Roger Cogen

Original publication date: 7/30/2015

> Nicholas Kristof - Why the Naysayers Are Wrong About the Iran Deal

This is one of the pivotal foreign policy decisions of the decade, so let’s examine the arguments. [...] Diplomacy is rarely about optimal outcomes; it is about muddling along in the dark, dodging bullets, struggling to defer war and catastrophe for the time being, nurturing opportunities for a better tomorrow. By that standard, the Iran deal succeeds. Sure, it is flawed, and yes, it makes us safer.

> Helene Cooper and Gardiner Harris - Top General Gives ‘Pragmatic’ View of Iran Nuclear Deal

While the nuclear agreement with Iran will not stop it from funding organizations the United States considers to be terrorist groups, the pact reduces the chances of a near-term military conflict between the two countries, the top American military leader, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, told Congress on Wednesday.

Later in the day, President Obama hosted about 90 House Democrats at the White House for what he had hoped would be a lengthy back-and-forth about the Iran deal, but the lawmakers ended up leaving after just 30 minutes because a series of votes were rescheduled on legislation dealing with highway aid and veterans’ health.

General Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the nuclear deal did not prevent the United States from striking Iranian facilities if officials decide that Tehran is cheating on the agreement. But if it sticks to the terms of the pact, such a strike — with attendant retaliation — is far less likely, he said.

In his trademark to-the-point style, General Dempsey answered a barrage of questions from Republican senators that appeared intended to make him criticize the pact. The general — appearing alongside Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz, Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew — neither praised nor condemned the nuclear agreement.

> Foreign Policy Initiative - FPI Resources on the Nuclear Deal with Iran

U.S. lawmakers are carefully examining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ahead of a September vote to approve or disapprove the agreement. As both the House and Senate hold hearings with administration officials and outside experts, the President and senior policymakers are meeting with Congressmen and Senators to persuade any uncommitted members. The FPI believes the following resources will be helpful for lawmakers and their staffs as they continue to examine the deal’s provisions and consequences.

> Iran Watch, Simon Chin and Valerie Lincy - What the Iran Deal Says (and Doesn't Say) about Iran's Ballistic Missiles

One of the final hurdles in the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 was the United Nations sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile program and conventional arms purchases. A compromise led to the extension of the U.N. arms embargo for five years and the missile ban for eight years.

While Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities were not considered a core issue in the nuclear talks, the nuclear deal will have consequences for the future of Iran’s ballistic missile program. [...] Iran’s attempts to advance its nuclear-capable ballistic missile program – through test launches, production, and illicit procurement – will be made easier, while attempts to punish or deter Iran’s ballistic missile activity and illicit procurement will be made more difficult.

Iran Tracker (AEI CTP) - Iran News Round Up July 29, 2015

Key takeaway: Ali Akbar Velayati stated that Iran considers the sections on Iran’s weapons capabilities in UNSC Resolution 2231 “unacceptable.”

Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati said the sections of UNSC Resolution 2231 on Iran’s weapons capabilities, “especially missiles…[are] from the point of view of Iran, unacceptable.” He stated that such a resolution “weakens Iran’s defensive power,” so that Western countries can “impose their demands on Iran.” Velayati indicated that Iran “did not and will not” submit to such weakening of Iran’s weapons capabilities.

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati was reappointed as Guardian Council Secretary. The Guardian Council’s primary roles include approving Parliament’s legislation and supervising elections for the Assembly of Experts, the President, and the Parliament.

Iran News Round Up July 30, 2015

Key takeaway: Abbas Araghchi stated that the “resistance economy” doctrine does not take an “isolationist” approach, but instead supports selective economic interaction “with [other] countries without depending upon them.”

In a meeting with the National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission, Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araghchi stressed that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “resistance economy” doctrine does not prohibit all economic interaction with other countries or promote an “isolationist” approach to Iran’s economy; rather, it “prescribes a certain type of economic interaction with the world” such that no nation can “put pressure on our economy.” He also warned that “in upcoming [economic] cooperation with other countries, Iran will not forget the past.”

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