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As White House Pushes Political “War” Against Senate Democrats, Journalists Struggle to Assess Nuke Deal Impact

Journalists and analysts struggled yesterday to evaluate how the weekend announcement regarding the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) – revealing that the deal’s implementation will begin January 20th, at which point the six month negotiations clock will start ticking – would affect a legislative push in the Senate to lock in sanctions should negotiations fail. The JPA was announced last November in Geneva but several snags, most recently involving Iran’s demand that it be allowed to continue developing advanced centrifuges, delayed its implementation. Reports indicate that Western negotiators in recent days caved to Tehran’s position that it be allowed to continue development of next-generation enrichment technology, breaking the deadlock in talks. In the meantime the Senate had converged on a bipartisan consensus regarding the need to strengthen the hand of U.S. negotiators by signaling to Tehran that new sanctions would immediately be imposed should the Iranians cheat during negotiations or refuse to dismantle their atomic program at the end of those negotiations. The White House responded by threatening to veto, and pressuring Senators to oppose, any such legislation. The Obama administration, per the Daily Beast, launched a campaign seeking to brand Senate Democrats supporting pressure on Iran as warmongers.

“If certain members of Congress want the United States to take military action, they should be up front with the American public and say so,” said Meehan. “Otherwise, it’s not clear why any member of Congress would support a bill that possibly closes the door on diplomacy and makes it more likely that the United States will have to choose between military options or allowing Iran’s nuclear program to proceed.”

Advocates who have been linked to the Iranian regime have in recent days leveled nearly identical accusations against Republican Senators. It is unlikely that the rhetoric will endear Obama officials to fellow Democrats, and indeed the Daily Beast assessed that the attacks have “done little to dissuade Democrats from supporting sanctions.” It is difficult to evaluate how lawmakers will position themselves in relation to the implementation agreement. Reuters yesterday declared that the announcement of the JPA’s implementation “makes it harder for sanctions hawks to attract more backers” to sanctions legislation. The Associated Press declared that the announcement of the JPA’s implementation “has done little to sway skeptical lawmakers determined to levy new sanctions against Iran.”

[Photo: HuffPost Live / YouTube]