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Leading Senators Urge Obama To Allow Congressional Review Of Nuclear Deal Before UN Vote

The highest-ranking Republican and Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have sent a letter to President Barack Obama, urging him not to hold a United Nations Security Council vote to remove sanctions imposed on Iran before Congress has a chance to review the deal. The sanctions were placed on Iran for violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The Washington Post reported more:

In a letter Thursday, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and ranking Democrat Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (Md.) urged Obama to postpone U.N. consideration of the agreement until Congress can review it and potentially vote on its own assessment.

Corker, speaking as he left a meeting with Vice President Biden on Iran, called the U.N. plans “an affront to the American people.”

Administration officials dismissed concerns that the U.N. would take precedence over Congress, saying the resolution does not begin to implement the deal for 90 days, a delay they said was expressly included to ensure lawmakers would have enough time to weigh in first. The deal requires Iran to sharply curtail its nuclear activities, under international verification, in exchange for lifting economic sanctions.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote in March that the purpose of going to the Security Council first was in order to give the nuclear agreement international authority that Congress would be unable to override.

He 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.

Zarif expressed the hope that his comments “may enrich the knowledge of the authors to recognize that according to international law, Congress may not modify the terms of the agreement at any time as they claim, and if Congress adopts any measure to impede its implementation, it will have committed a material breach of US obligations.

The text of the senators’ letter read:

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, a bill which 98 Senators and 400 Representatives supported and you signed, established a 60-day period for Congress to consider the nuclear agreement. We are deeply concerned that your administration plans to enable the United Nations Security Council to vote on the agreement before the United States Congress can do the same.

Doing so would be contrary to your statement that “it’s important for the American people and Congress to get a full opportunity to review this deal…our national security policies are stronger and more effective when they are subject to the scrutiny and transparency that democracy demands.”

We urge you to postpone the vote at the United Nations until after Congress considers this agreement.

Representatives Michael McCaul (R – Tex.) and Ed Royce (R – Calif.), respectively the chairmen of the House Committee on Homeland Security and House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a similar letter to the President, which read:

Any U.S.-supported effort to lift UN sanctions before Congress has weighed-in on the terms of the agreement would undermine our oversight responsibilities and violate the spirit of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which you signed into law. It is distressing that your Administration would afford Russia and China the opportunity to vote on the final agreement before the American people’s representatives do. The full 60 day review period and parliamentary procedures prescribed by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act should be allowed to play out before action at the Security Council.

[Photo: Roll Call / YouTube ]