While many were focused on the Republican Party Fox News Debate last night, New York Senator Chuck Schumer up for re-election in 2016 released a statement announcing that he opposes the Iran Deal and will “vote yes on a motion of disapproval” citing that “The very real risk that Iran will not moderate and will, instead, use the agreement to pursue its nefarious goals is too great…”
In spite of a request from the White House that Progressives opposing the Iran deal to hold off announcing their opposition until after August recess, Schumer’s announcement comes one day after Barack Obama’s press conference in which Obama in an attempt to woo support of his legacy/Iran Deal “framed the decision lawmakers now face as a choice between war or peace.” (More on Obama’s speech further down the post.)
…In making my decision, I examined this deal in three parts: nuclear restrictions on Iran in the first ten years, nuclear restrictions on Iran after ten years, and non-nuclear components and consequences of a deal. In each case I have asked: are we better off with the agreement or without it?
In the first ten years of the deal, there are serious weaknesses in the agreement. First, inspections are not “anywhere, anytime”; the 24-day delay before we can inspect is troubling. While inspectors would likely be able to detect radioactive isotopes at a site after 24 days, that delay would enable Iran to escape detection of any illicit building and improving of possible military dimensions (PMD) – the tools that go into building a bomb but don’t emit radioactivity.
Furthermore, even when we detect radioactivity at a site where Iran is illicitly advancing its bomb-making capability, the 24-day delay would hinder our ability to determine precisely what was being done at that site.
Even more troubling is the fact that the U.S. cannot demand inspections unilaterally. By requiring the majority of the 8-member Joint Commission, and assuming that China, Russia, and Iran will not cooperate, inspections would require the votes of all three European members of the P5+1 as well as the EU representative. It is reasonable to fear that, once the Europeans become entangled in lucrative economic relations with Iran, they may well be inclined not to rock the boat by voting to allow inspections.
Additionally, the “snapback” provisions in the agreement seem cumbersome and difficult to use. While the U.S. could unilaterally cause snapback of all sanctions, there will be instances where it would be more appropriate to snapback some but not all of the sanctions, because the violation is significant but not severe. A partial snapback of multilateral sanctions could be difficult to obtain, because the U.S. would require the cooperation of other nations. If the U.S. insists on snapback of all the provisions, which it can do unilaterally, and the Europeans, Russians, or Chinese feel that is too severe a punishment, they may not comply.
Those who argue for the agreement say it is better to have an imperfect deal than to have nothing; that without the agreement, there would be no inspections, no snapback. When you consider only this portion of the deal – nuclear restrictions for the first ten years – that line of thinking is plausible, but even for this part of the agreement, the weaknesses mentioned above make this argument less compelling.
Second, we must evaluate how this deal would restrict Iran’s nuclear development after ten years.
Supporters argue that after ten years, a future President would be in no weaker a position than we are today to prevent Iran from racing to the bomb. That argument discounts the current sanctions regime. After fifteen years of relief from sanctions, Iran would be stronger financially and better able to advance a robust nuclear program. Even more importantly, the agreement would allow Iran, after ten to fifteen years, to be a nuclear threshold state with the blessing of the world community. Iran would have a green light to be as close, if not closer to possessing a nuclear weapon than it is today. And the ability to thwart Iran if it is intent on becoming a nuclear power would have less moral and economic force.
If Iran’s true intent is to get a nuclear weapon, under this agreement, it must simply exercise patience. After ten years, it can be very close to achieving that goal, and, unlike its current unsanctioned pursuit of a nuclear weapon, Iran’s nuclear program will be codified in an agreement signed by the United States and other nations. To me, after ten years, if Iran is the same nation as it is today, we will be worse off with this agreement than without it.
In addition, we must consider the non-nuclear elements of the agreement. This aspect of the deal gives me the most pause. For years, Iran has used military force and terrorism to expand its influence in the Middle East, actively supporting military or terrorist actions in Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, and Gaza. That is why the U.S. has labeled Iran as one of only three nations in the world who are “state sponsors of terrorism.” Under this agreement, Iran would receive at least $50 billion dollars in the near future and would undoubtedly use some of that money to redouble its efforts to create even more trouble in the Middle East, and, perhaps, beyond.
To reduce the pain of sanctions, the Supreme Leader had to lean left and bend to the moderates in his country. It seems logical that to counterbalance, he will lean right and give the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) and the hardliners resources so that they can pursue their number one goal: strengthening Iran’s armed forces and pursuing even more harmful military and terrorist actions.
Finally, the hardliners can use the freed-up funds to build an ICBM on their own as soon as sanctions are lifted (and then augment their ICBM capabilities in 8 years after the ban on importing ballistic weaponry is lifted), threatening the United States. Restrictions should have been put in place limiting how Iran could use its new resources.
When it comes to the non-nuclear aspects of the deal, I think there is a strong case that we are better off without an agreement than with one.
Using the proponents’ overall standard – which is not whether the agreement is ideal, but whether we are better with or without it – it seems to me, when it comes to the nuclear aspects of the agreement within ten years, we might be slightly better off with it. However, when it comes to the nuclear aspects after ten years and the non-nuclear aspects, we would be better off without it.
Ultimately, in my view, whether one supports or opposes the resolution of disapproval depends on how one thinks Iran will behave under this agreement.
If one thinks Iran will moderate, that contact with the West and a decrease in economic and political isolation will soften Iran’s hardline positions, one should approve the agreement. After all, a moderate Iran is less likely to exploit holes in the inspection and sanctions regime, is less likely to seek to become a threshold nuclear power after ten years, and is more likely to use its newfound resources for domestic growth, not international adventurism.
But if one feels that Iranian leaders will not moderate and their unstated but very real goal is to get relief from the onerous sanctions, while still retaining their nuclear ambitions and their ability to increase belligerent activities in the Middle East and elsewhere, then one should conclude that it would be better not to approve this agreement.
Admittedly, no one can tell with certainty which way Iran will go. It is true that Iran has a large number of people who want their government to decrease its isolation from the world and focus on economic advancement at home. But it is also true that this desire has been evident in Iran for thirty-five years, yet the Iranian leaders have held a tight and undiminished grip on Iran, successfully maintaining their brutal, theocratic dictatorship with little threat. Who’s to say this dictatorship will not prevail for another ten, twenty, or thirty years?
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.
Therefore, 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. Better to keep U.S. sanctions in place, strengthen them, enforce secondary sanctions on other nations, and pursue the hard-trodden path of diplomacy once more, difficult as it may be.
For all of these reasons, I believe the vote to disapprove is the right one.
Schumer, the next-in-line Progressive leader in the Senate after Harry Reid retires until now has always voted with Progressives pushing Obama’s agenda over the top.
The senator from New York has been under fire these past few weeks heightened by his absence at last month’s #StopIranRally in Times Square where thousands of New Yorkers called Schumer out warning the senator to kill the bill or kiss his career goodbye.
Schumer’s opposition of the Iran deal is sure not to set well with many of Schumer’s fellow Progressives but then again Schumer is up for re-election in 2016 in a state that is home to more than one and a quarter million Jews.
Shortly afterwards, Rep. Eliot Engel, NY and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee announced his opposition to the Iran deal.
As reported by the Times of Israel, Progressives are lining up on both sides of the fence:
Rep. Nita Lowey, the senior Democrat on the US House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the top Democrat on the House Middle East subcommittee, and Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., who until last year led the House Democratic reelection effort, announced their opposition Tuesday afternoon. …
A larger number of Democrats have declared for the deal, among them Jews who are in the leadership or who are veterans in Congress: Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and on Tuesday, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif….
In addition, representatives Grace Meng (D-NY) and Kathleen Rice (NY-04) have also announced their opposition to the Iran deal while senators Tim Kaine (Va.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Kirsten E. Gillibrand (NY) announced support for the deal.
For the record, most Americans oppose the Iran deal and Barack Obama’s handling of the deal.
Obama’s divisive speech
In typical Obama fashion, POTIUS44 attempted to turn the Iran deal into a partisan issue by demonizing opposition accusing Republicans of “making common cause” with the hard-liners of the Iranian regime shouting “death to America.”
“Just because Iranian hard-liners chant ‘death to America’ does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe. In fact, it’s those hardliners 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 are making common cause with the Republican caucus.”
Obama the spiteful already seeking revenge
According to news reports, Schumer informed the White House yesterday that he would make his announcement today but the White House leaked the announcement to the Huffington Post who took the ball and ran with it, forcing Schumer to move his announcement up.
Clearly, Barack Obama the vengeful who has been anti-Israel from day one is just getting warmed up. Schumer will pay for his dissent.