Republicans Make It Clear They’ll Scrap Biden’s Weak Iran Deal | National Review

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Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting via video conference in Tehran, Iran, February 17, 2022. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via Reuters)

Today, 49 Republican senators came out against the Biden administration’s impending nuclear deal with Iran. Republicans stressed two points: Any deal pursued by the Biden administration must hold Iran accountable for its destabilizing behavior and must receive congressional approval.

The statement says that the Biden administration has “given away the store” by lifting sanctions that “were not even placed on Iran for its nuclear activities” but for its “ongoing support for terrorism and its gross uses of human rights.” 

The current deal, which is branded as a return to Obama’s 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is actually far weaker; it’s most notable concessions include allowing Iran to maintain its nuclear gains since 2018, and lifting terrorism sanctions. 

The senators said they will only support a deal that “blocks Iran’s path to a nuclear weapons capability, constrains Iran’s ballistic missile program, and confront’s Iran’s support for terrorism.” If the deal falls short, Republicans will “do everything in our power to reverse it.” Given that the 2015 JCPOA failed to permanently block Iran’s nuclear capability and ballistics program, this new, weaker deal would face a battle in Congress (and certainly wouldn’t survive a future Republican majority).

To circumvent Congress, the White House would pitch any new agreement with Iran as a return to the JCPOA, allowing Biden to avoid congressional review as mandated by the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA). Biden’s agreement, however, would still be transitory. On Saturday, I pointed out that the original JCPOA was an international agreement by executive order rather than an official treaty, ratified by the Senate. This means that the deal does not qualify as the “the supreme Law of the Land.” 

Republicans confirmed that the Biden administration will be following Obama’s strategy: “The administration has thus far refused to commit to submit a new Iran deal to the Senate for ratification as a treaty.”

There are clear trade-offs to such maneuvering: Law professor Jack Goldsmith wrote that using an international agreement allows the president to “avoid the need for approval from the Senate or Congress . . . despite domestic opposition” but comes at the cost of lacking “binding force under international or domestic law.”

As I predicted this weekend, a new deal would almost certainly be temporary. Indeed, in their statement, Republicans made it clear they will not stand for such maneuvering by the Biden administration: “A major agreement that does not have strong bipartisan support in Congress will not survive.”

With the midterms looking better and better for Republicans, it’s likely that Biden’s impending deal wouldn’t last very long.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.