In an op-ed in The Daily Beast on Friday, more than 50 Iranian dissidents warned against the deal with Iran, which they believe will enrich “tyrants and theocrats” and relieve pressure on the regime. The group of dissidents lamented that “the world has not demanded real improvements in human rights” and that the release of human rights activists was not included in the deal. They wrote that “more pressure should be applied to the regime, not less” and that people “should help restore focus to the Iranian regime’s brutal human rights records, its support for global terror and role in destabilizing the Middle East.”Although Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has often been perceived as a moderate, the UN and several Iranian experts have reported that human rights violations including the repression of women and political activists have worsened under Rouhani’s Presidency. According to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, “Since President Hassan Rouhani assumed office in August 2013, the number of individuals from religious minority communities who are in prison because of their beliefs has increased.” The Iranian regime continues to severely restrict civil liberties, systematically oppress women, persecute gays, and repress ethnic minorities including Baha’is. Iran also has the highest rate of executions per capita in the world.
The Obama administration has argued that the deal could moderate the Iranian regime. However, the Iranian dissidents argue that those in favor of the deal “distance the likelihood of positive change and undercut the hopes of the Iranian people.” Former State Department official and Iran expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, Ray Takeyh, has similarly asserted that Iran’s massive financial gains under the deal would allow “a repressive regime that was on the brink of collapse in 2009 to consolidate power.” Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) belief that Iran will not become more moderate in the next 10-15 years played a role in his decision to vote against the deal. In his op-ed against the deal, Schumer wrote, “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.” Indeed Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei stated on Monday that although Western countries believe the deal “will open up Iran to their influence… We won't allow American political, economic or cultural influence in Iran."
A congressional rejection of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) would not lead to war or diplomatic isolation of the United States, as the Obama administration has warned, just as similar warnings proved incorrect about stronger sanctions, former Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman wrote in an op-ed published Friday in The Washington Post.
I was a member of the Senate when, between 2009 and 2012, Congress developed a series of bills that dramatically increased pressure on Tehran for its illicit nuclear activities, including adopting a measure in late 2011 that effectively banned Iran from selling oil — its economic lifeblood — on international markets. In every case, senior Obama administration officials worked to block congressional efforts, warning that they were unnecessary, counterproductive and even dangerous.
Much like today, the White House repeatedly argued that sanctions would isolate the United States and alienate our allies whose help we needed. In the case of the oil ban, a Cabinet member bluntly told members that adopting the measure risked torpedoing the global economic recovery.
These predictions proved false. In fact, it was only because of the sanctions adopted by Congress, and ultimately signed by President Obama, that sufficient economic pressure was put on the Iranian government that its leaders came to the negotiating table — a truth the Obama administration now accepts and asserts. Our allies and partners did not always welcome new restrictions on doing business in Tehran, but in the end, they decided it was more important to do business in the United States.
Lieberman argued that, if confronted by a bipartisan super-majority of lawmakers opposed to the JCPOA, the administration will be forced to address the “undeniable loopholes and inadequacies” of the nuclear deal. Iran would not walk away from such a renegotiation, as Tehran’s previous willingness to adjust to “new political realities” has demonstrated, especially at a time when its sanctions-damaged economy “needs an agreement much more than we do.” Lieberman adds that, rather than isolating the United States, a congressional rejection of the JCPOA would have the support of America’s Arab allies and Israel, as well as the tacit support of “even some of our European allies.”
Lieberman’s argument that congressional rejection of the JCPOA could lead to its renegotiation on better terms echoes that of legal scholar Orde Kittrie, who wrote last week that, historically, over 200 treaties have been renegotiated because of congressional objections, and that the JCPOA, which isn’t a treaty, should certainly be able to be similarly amended. (via TheTower.org)