Diplomacy

Senator Warns Administration Not To Take Deal to UN and Bypass Congress

If the Obama administration ratifies a nuclear deal with Iran in the United Nations Security Council but does not submit it to Congressional review, it would be “a direct affront” to the American people, Sen. Bob Corker (R – Tenn.) wrote yesterday in a letter to President Barack Obama.

In recent days, senior members of your administration—including Vice President Joe Biden—have stated that your administration is negotiating a nuclear agreement with Iran that you intend to “take effect without congressional approval.” Yesterday, at a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State John Kerry alluded to this same concept.

These statements stand in stark contrast to the repeated assertions made by your administration—including Secretary Kerry—that any deal with Iran would have to “pass muster with Congress.” …

There are now reports that your administration is contemplating taking an agreement, or aspects of it, to the United Nations Security Council for a vote. Enabling the United Nations to consider an agreement or portions of it, while simultaneously threatening to veto legislation that would enable Congress to do the same, is a direct affront to the American people and seeks to undermine Congress’s appropriate role.

The Times of Israel reported that the Corker letter may be a response to Secretary of State John Kerry’s assertion earlier this week that the nuclear deal being negotiated with Iran would not be legally binding.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry told Corker’s committee that any deal with Iran would not be a legally binding treaty, and would therefore not be subject to Congressional oversight.

“We have been clear from the beginning, we are not negotiating, a quote, legally binding plan, we are negotiating a plan that will have in it capacity for enforcement. The letter erroneously asserts this is a legally binding plan. It is not,” he said, responding to the letter to Tehran penned by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton and signed by 47 Senate Republicans. …

After the hearing Corker promised to “follow up a bit” on Kerry’s comments. Thursday’s letter may have been the first such attempt – but likely far from the last as the US approaches a March 31 deadline for a political framework for the Iran deal.

Corker may also have been responding to a declaration by Iran’s nuclear negotiator and foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was cited on Iran’s foreign ministry website, apparently negotiating in public, saying that a permanent nuclear deal would be “endorsed” by the United Nations Security Council:

He [Zarif] emphasized that if the current negotiation with P5+1 result in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.

Corker’s letter appeared to have been released prior to a Reuters report yesterday that the P5+1 nations and Iran were indeed working on ways to lift the Security Council sanctions that were imposed on Iran for its illicit nuclear enrichment program.

In a statement quoted by The Weekly Standard, President Obama said, “I think what we’re going to focus on right now is actually seeing whether we can get a deal or not. And once we do — if we do — then we’ll be able to make the case to the American people, and I’m confident we’ll be able to implement it.”

[Photo: senatorcorker / YouTube ]