Diplomacy

Moves to Block Bipartisan Senate Legislation Celebrated by Iranian Media and Pro-Iran Lobbies

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) this week signaled that he will not permit the Senate to vote on bipartisan legislation – formally co-sponsored by 59 senators and reportedly supported by a veto-proof majority of 77 – that would impose sanctions on Iran should negotiations over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program fail. The Hill noted that the decision came “[a]mid intense pressure from President Obama and the White House,” elements of which included accusations of warmongering leveled at Democrats by administration supporters.

“While [the negotiations] are going on and while the legislative process is working forward here, I’m going to sit and be as fair an umpire as I can be,” Reid said, a sentiment seconded by at least one Democratic co-sponsor of the measure…Other Democrats also indicated Tuesday they did not think a vote on the Iran sanctions bill was needed quickly, so long as the negotiations were progressing.

Iranian state outlet PressTV positively covered Reid’s efforts to block a vote in the face of what the station described as “the Israeli lobby’s efforts” – the second at least two such articles that PressTV published this week about the Senate leader – and also conveyed reports of animated personal lobbying by President Barack Obama himself.

Obama “made a really strong case for his position on Iran” in the hopes of giving “pause to anyone who wanted a vote while negotiations were ongoing,” a Senate aide said.

The Nation noted that the legislation is also opposed by the National Iranian Council, by which the magazine likely meant the National Iranian American Council, which is a lobby that has been accused by members of Congress of pushing pro-regime “propaganda” amid efforts by lawmakers to pressure Iran into making meaningful concessions that would defuse the international crisis over Tehran’s nuclear program. The tone inside the Senate differed, with a senior aide expressing frustration at Reid for “blocking a majority of senators who want to stop Iran from going nuclear.”

[Photo: Senate Democrats / Flickr