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Weighing the Odds in Fight Over Iran Nuclear Deal

Posted on August 25, 2015 at 7:25 PM

United States, New York Times

After Congress passes foreign policy legislation that the president strongly opposes, he vetoes the bill, saying it unlawfully restricts executive authority. Lawmakers refuse to accept the action and override the veto, with the Senate quickly following the House.

That was the case in November 1973 when Congress enacted the War Powers Resolution over the objections of President Richard M. Nixon, a rare occasion when the House and Senate overcame a presidential veto on foreign affairs legislation. Now, the coming fight over the disapproval of the nuclear agreement with Iran raises the possibility of another national security veto clash between a Congress controlled by one party and a White House controlled by the other.

The rarity of veto overrides over all — and on foreign policy matters in particular — shows how difficult it would be for Republican opponents of the nuclear pact to overcome President Obama’s promised rejection of the resolution of disapproval of the deal, if the fight even gets that far.

Carl Hulse

> Celestine Bohlenaug - Europe Doesn’t Share U.S. Concerns on Iran Deal

Given the sound, fury and millions of dollars swirling around the debate in Washington over the Iranian nuclear deal, the silence in Europe is striking. It’s particularly noticeable in Britain, France and Germany, which were among the seven countries that signed the deal on July 14.

Here in France, which took the toughest stance during the last years of negotiation, the matter is settled, according to Camille Grand, director of the Strategic Research Foundation in Paris and an expert on nuclear nonproliferation.

“In Europe, you don’t have a constituency against the deal,” he said. “In France, I can’t think of a single politician or member of the expert community who has spoken against it, including some of us who were critical during the negotiations.”

> Carol Giacomo - Showing Courage on Iran

Intense lobbying and heated (often demagogic and hateful) rhetoric has made deciding whether to support the Iran nuclear deal an excruciating process for many members of Congress. None have come under more pressure and scrutiny than Jewish-American lawmakers. And among those, Representative Jerrold Nadler stands out. He represents a district of New York City from the liberal Upper West Side to ultra-Orthodox Borough Park in Brooklyn that is believed to have the largest Jewish population in the country. [...]

If, as expected, Congress passes a resolution to disapprove of the Iran deal, President Obama will veto the measure. With the announcement on Sunday that Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, would support the nuclear agreement, Democrats and the White House increasingly believe they will have enough votes to salvage the deal by blocking efforts to overturn the veto. That would be a win for the deal but a very shallow one. As part of a continuing push to expand the margin, Mr. Obama plans to hold a webcast with Jewish leaders this week. Perhaps Mr. Nadler’s act of courage will encourage them to listen to Mr. Obama more carefully.

> David E. Sanger and Michael R. Gordon - Future Risks of an Iran Nuclear Deal

As President Obama begins his three-week push to win approval of the Iran nuclear deal, he is confronting this political reality: His strongest argument in favor of passage has also become his greatest vulnerability. Mr. Obama has been pressing the case that the sharp limits on how much nuclear fuel Iran can hold, how many centrifuges it can spin and what kind of technology it can acquire would make it extraordinarily difficult for Iran to race for the bomb over the next 15 years.

His problem is that most of the significant constraints on Tehran’s program lapse after 15 years — and, after that, Iran is free to produce uranium on an industrial scale. [...] Even some of the most enthusiastic backers of the agreement, reached by six world powers with Iran, say they fear Mr. Obama has oversold some of the accord’s virtues as he asserts that it would “block” all pathways to a nuclear weapon.

A more accurate description is that the agreement is likely to delay Iran’s program for a decade and a half — just as sanctions and sabotage have slowed Iran in recent years. The administration’s case essentially is that the benefits over the next 15 years overwhelmingly justify the longer-term risks of what comes after. (8/23)

Iran Tracker (AEI CTP) - Iran News Round Up August 24, 2015

Key takeaway: President Hassan Rouhani called for enhanced defensive power through military and private sector collaboration; he also declared that Iran can purchase and sell weapons as it sees fit. The Defense Ministry unveiled an advanced short-range ballistic missile. The Iranian and British embassies reopened in Tehran and London after a four-year closure.


President Rouhani underlined the importance of integrating the military and private industry in order to advance the nation’s defensive capabilities. He also emphasized that Iran’s military doctrine is predicated on defense in an effort to allay concerns shared by some Arab states over the regime’s conventional capabilities. Rouhani reassured his domestic audiences that the nuclear deal will not limit Iran’s defense capacity, claiming: “We will sell and buy weapons whenever and wherever we deem it necessary… we will not wait for permission…or any resolution.” Defense Minister IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan stressed that Iran will not waver from its determination to strengthen its defense capabilities. The Defense Ministry, meanwhile, introduced the Fateh 313 precision-guided missile, which runs on solid fuel with a reported range of 500 kilometers.

National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission member Mohammad Esmail Kowsari criticized the Rouhani administration for failing to strengthen the economy, claiming: “Mr. Rouhani made promises to the people regarding the improvement of the economic situation, but today, not much has emerged.” The former senior IRGC commander stated, “Unfortunately, the current government does not tolerate fair criticism…”

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond traveled to Iran on August 23 to reopen his country’s embassy in Tehran. Hammond and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held a joint press conference to mark the resumption of Tehran-London ties. The British Foreign Secretary also met with President Rouhani and other senior Iranian officials.

Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Undersecretary for Strategic Affairs Ali Hosseini Tash rejected a recent Associated Press report alleging that he signed a secret agreement with the IAEA, which purportedly allows Iran to use its own inspectors to monitor the Parchin military site.

Iran News Round Up August 21, 2015

Key takeaway: Defense Minister IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to bolster its defense capabilities, while IRGC Air Force Commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that the IRGC will soon hold large-scale ballistic missile drills.

IRGC Brigadier General Dehghan dismissed the premise that the P5+1 nuclear deal will restrict Iran’s military capabilities. The Defense Minister reiterated the Supreme Leader’s firm position that the regime’s missiles are nonnegotiable. Dehghan asserted that imposing sanctions will not deter Iran from strengthening its defensive capacity and insisted: “our nation has no worries or concerns about this issue…” IRGC Brigadier General Hajizadeh, meanwhile, confirmed the IRGC’s upcoming plans to hold missile exercises.

Iran News Round Up August 20, 2015

Key takeaway: IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari warned government officials not to challenge regime principles, while the Foreign Ministry confirmed reports that British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond will travel to Tehran this weekend to reopen the UK embassy.

Major General Jafari reinforced the Supreme Leader’s recent call to counter U.S. “soft war” plots to subvert the regime. The IRGC Commander advised Iranian officials not to pursue policies that contradict the values of the Islamic Revolution. He stressed the need to safeguard national security and stated, “Those who…[undermine] the orders of the Supreme Leader—to open new holes for foreign influence in the country—should know that we [the IRGC] will never allow the growth and implementation of such thinking.” Jafari’s warning is indicative of his fear that the U.S. will exploit Iran’s social and cultural vulnerabilities.

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