- Obama administration vows to veto bill requiring congressional review of a potential agreement with Iran
On Saturday, President Obama promised to veto legislation introduced last Friday by a bipartisan group of senators that would require congressional review of any potential agreement with Iran. The bill, sponsored by Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Bob Menendez (D – N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), would prohibit “the administration from suspending, waiving, or otherwise reducing congressional sanctions for 60 days.” During those 60 days, Congress would have the “opportunity to hold hearings, approve, disapprove, or take no action regarding the agreement.” If Iran violates the agreement, “Congress could vote… to restore sanctions that had been waived or suspended.”
Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have voiced their dissatisfaction with the extent of the concessions the P5+1 have made to Iran, and in particular, with recent preliminary reports in the media about a potential deal. At a Senate hearing last week, Senator Corker told Secretary John Kerry that “at every one of these meetings where the numbers of centrifuges are generally laid out and we express concern, the next report, the numbers of centrifuges increase. And I would say every time we get concerned about the length of the agreement being too short, at every report the length of the agreement shortens.” Senator Menendez asserted that he is “very concerned about the news that’s leaking from the negotiations and that this entire deal will hinge on inspection and verification regimes while leaving Iran with the vast majority of its nuclear infrastructure,” and that the agreement would last “far less than anyone would have envisioned.”
Last month the Wall Street Journal editorial board argued that the Senate has a long tradition of playing a role in ratifying or approving nuclear arms control agreements, citing precedents including the Limited Test Ban Treaty, the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty (SALT). Last May, former Special Assistant to President Obama, Dennis Ross, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations Ray Takeyh, and former Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman urged the Obama administration to work with Congress to “develop a bipartisan consensus about parameters of an acceptable agreement” and to “take into account Congress’s perspective and heed its warnings.” Last month the trio of experts warned that “the absence of congressional involvement and approval could well mean that any deal negotiated by the White House will not survive the Obama presidency.” According to a poll conducted last year, 69% of Americans believe that Congress should approve any final deal with Iran.
The only diplomacy that will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is diplomacy that will force Iran “to make a choice between its nuclear infrastructure and the fuel cycle on the one hand, and access to nuclear peaceful and economic relief on the other,” Josh Block, the president and CEO of The Israel Project writes in an op-ed that was published yesterday in The Miami Herald.
Terms leaked about the emerging nuclear deal between the P5+1 nations and Iran, on the other hand, will offer Iran an opportunity to build a significant nuclear weapons program to threaten and destabilize an already volatile Middle East.
The emerging deal will reportedly allow Iran to maintain its nuclear-enrichment program — and then expand it to unlimited, industrial size in as few as 10 years. Rather than stopping proliferation, such an agreement would ensure massive nuclear proliferation across the Middle East, threaten global peace and embolden Iran as it emerges victorious from negotiations with the West.
Given Iran’s record of supporting global terror as well as cheating on its past nuclear commitments, any deal that doesn’t force it to stop enriching uranium indefinitely will offer Iran the opportunity to violate its future commitments with impunity.
The truth is, Iran is an unabashed terrorist regime that provides financial and operational support to the Assad killing machine, violent radical Islamist groups from Hezbollah and Hamas to al Qaida, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Indeed, the majority of terror attacks over the past 35 years have been linked to Iran, and more Americans were killed last year by Iranian-backed terrorists than by terrorists of the so-called Islamic State. …
While pocketing countless U.S. concessions on virtually every aspect of its program — enrichment, plutonium, ballistic missile delivery systems, past illicit nuclear weapons work, continued expansion of centrifuge research — Iran has played the West for a fool. Tehran has failed to grant unfettered access to inspect nuclear infrastructure and continues to stonewall the IAEA, the very organization that would be charged with monitoring any new nuclear agreement.
Without forcing Iran to choose, Block writes, “Iran will continue to pursue its strategy of delay and deceit, bringing the world closer to the brink of a nuclear nightmare.”
A report issued today by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) found Iran once again to be in violation of its commitments to reveal all aspects of its past nuclear weapons research.
Hundreds of buyers from around the world jammed the trading floor at the Israel Diamond Exchange to find the best gems during International Diamond Week in February. They were also introduced to the latest technological advances in the diamond industry. “For years, the diamond industry was seen as archaic, working with dated technologies to treat the diamonds,” IDE President Shmuel Schnitzer told exhibitors. “But these times are long gone. The polishing process, as well as the manufacturing process and trade, are done using cutting-edge technologies that are constantly improving.” Israel’s export of polished and rough diamonds totaled some $9.324 billion last year, up from $9.166 billion in 2013. Diamonds constitute 20 percent of Israel’s total industrial export. Israel is not only a top diamond exporter but is also considered the most advanced in diamond polishing. Israeli technology is used in the international diamond industry’s cutting, bruting and automatic polishing machines, as well as computer-aided design systems, according to the Israeli Diamond Industry. “The name of the game is to keep the qualitative edge. And we’re always one step ahead,” Israel Diamond Exchange Managing Director Moti Besser tells ISRAEL21c. The International Diamond Week event attracted 400 buyers from 24 countries, including large delegations from the US, Belgium and Turkey. There were representatives from India, UK, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, Italy, Austria and South Africa, among others. (via Israel21c)