It’s time for round two in the Iran negotiations — not the second round of the Iran plus 5 talks, but rather an entirely new negotiation between the US Congress and Iran. The parties will never meet face to face, but they can face off nonetheless with the balance of power resting squarely with Senate Democrats who are skeptical of the deal.
But first Congress has to acquire sovereignty over the deal by asserting its constitutional right of advice and consent. Unless it does so, it will demean the role of Congress and trivialize it. For Democrats to vote supinely for the deal without demanding changes would mean disaster for the entire system of checks and balances.
The false alternative posed by Obama: deal or no deal is just not accurate. The Senate can and should propose changes to the deal upon which it demands in return for lifting sanctions.
Netanuahu began the process this week by making suggestions for “improving” the deal. These recommendations chart a course for Congress in approaching the framework agreement.
These changes will, of course, be rejected by Iran and an arms length negotiation between the Senate and the Ayatollah will ensue, mediated by Obama with the final decision resting with Senate Democrats.
These amendments, akin to the “reservations” voted by the Senate in its consideration of the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I, should follow Netanyahu’s lead.
The Senate should insist that the deal include:
• Inspections anywhere, anytime
• Disposal of existing supplies of enriched uranium
• Sanctions relief only after Iran renounces its commitment to the death of Israel
• Make the restrictions in the deal last longer than ten years.
Are these terms “unrealistic?” As Netanyahu said, “If you press Iran strongly enough, what seems unrealistic today becomes realistic.”
In the push-pull which will characterize this coming round of negotiations, the strength of the deal will hinge on the resolution of the Senate’s Democrats. They must show strength and determination to face down the Ayatollah and not to be intimidated by the president’s desire to bypass the legislative arm.
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