In-Depth: The Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and lead sponsor of this legislation, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), believes the deal should be rejected for a litany of reasons:
“Iran is not required to dismantle key bomb making technology, but is permitted a vast enrichment capacity, and will continue its research and development to gain an industrialized nuclear program in as little as ten years or so… Even Iran’s heavily fortified underground nuclear facility — which the United States had vowed to shut — stays open. Iran is still able to ‘mass produce’ its ballistic missiles, as the Supreme Leader has ordered. And the terrorist state of Iran will be flush with cash.”
Lawmakers who oppose the agreement saw bipartisan growth in their ranks after two key House Democrats — Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) — said that they would support a resolution blocking the deal. This trend continued when the probable future Senate Democratic leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), also came out against the agreement and explained his reasoning in a post on Medium:
“To me, the very real risk that Iran will not moderate and will, instead, use the agreement to pursue its nefarious goals is too great… I will vote to disapprove the agreement, not because I believe war is a viable or desirable option, nor to challenge the path of diplomacy. It is because I believe Iran will not change, and under this agreement it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power.”
The White House has pushed Congress to resist efforts to torpedo the agreement; and President Obama said “the choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war.” The President also compared Republicans opposing the agreement to the hardliners in Iran who also oppose the deal:
“It’s those hard-liners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It’s those hardliners chanting ‘Death to America’ who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus.”
As one of the deal’s lead negotiators, Secretary of State John Kerry defended the agreement against accusations that inspection requirements were insufficient, saying “there’s no such thing in arms control as anytime, anywhere [inspections].” He also added that if Iran attempts to delay an inspection in order to hide illicit nuclear activity “there is no way for them to hide that material or do away with it in 24 days.”
Of Note: The agreement
between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council
(the U.S., China, France, Russia, and Great Britain) plus Germany is
quite expansive and encompasses over 150 pages. What follows is a relatively brief summary of the agreement’s major provisions:
Iran will be forced to remove two-thirds of its centrifuges used to enrich uranium, and can’t enrich beyond 3.67 percent purity (which is suitable for research) for 15 years;
Iran’s current stockpile of low-enriched uranium would be reduced by 98 percent to 660 pounds, a level which would stay in place for at least 15 years;
The breakout time
— which is the time it takes to produce a nuclear weapon — would be
extended from the current window of two-to-three months to one year;
from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would
“round-the-clock” access to declared nuclear facilities at Fordow and
For undeclared nuclear facilities,
IAEA inspectors could negotiate for access within a 24 day period, and
Iran does not comply then sanctions would ‘snapback’ into place;
No new sanctions could be imposed, and existing sanctions would be lifted after Iran complies with several requirements related to their nuclear program;
Sanctions on ballistic missile technology would remain in place for eight years, while sanctions on the conventional weapon sales would remain effective for five years;
by the European Union against Iranian companies and individuals would
be lifted after eight years, while U.S. sanctions would not be impacted.
These sanctions include the freezing of assets and travel bans.
was revealed in August 2015 that in late July, shortly after the
agreement was presented to Congress, the leader of an elite Iranian
military unit known as the Quds Force had defied a travel ban to go to Moscow and meet with Russian leaders. Qassem Soleimani
was the target of a travel ban and asset freeze imposed by the U.N.
Security Council in 2007, and has been blamed for hundreds of U.S. military casualties in Iraq.
Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user IAEA Imagebank)