Obama sides with Iran over the U.S. Congress
BY PHILIP KLEIN | NOVEMBER 24, 2013 AT 12:41 PM
President Obama has not only granted major concessions in striking a deal with Iran, but in doing so he sided with one of the world's leading state sponsors of terrorism over the U.S. Congress.
Under the deal, which is being touted by the administration as halting Iran's progress toward a nuclear weapon while talks continue, Iran would get $6 billion to $7 billion in relief from economic sanctions and would still be allowed to enrich uranium at lower levels.
Though the sanctions relief would be immediate, according to the New York Times, the deal -- if actually respected by Iran -- would only add a few weeks or "perhaps more than a month" to the time it would take Iran to produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon.
Elsewhere, the Times' David Sanger notes that "the deal does not roll back the vast majority of the advances Iran has made in the past five years, which have drastically shortened what nuclear experts call its “dash time” to a bomb -- the minimum time it would take to build a weapon if Iran's supreme leader or military decided to pursue that path."
Though the administration is claiming that the deal doesn't explicitly recognize Iran's right to enrich uranium, in practice, it continues to allow them to enrich uranium. As the Times put it, "American officials signaled last week that they were open to a compromise in which the two sides would essentially agree to disagree on how the proliferation treaty should be interpreted, while Tehran continued to enrich."
What's especially striking is that though Obama constantly decries the inability of members of Congress to find common ground, sanctions against Iran have been one of the truly bipartisan issues over the past several years.
In December 2011, the U.S. Senate voted 100 to 0 for sanctions against Iran. In November 2012, the chamber voted 94 to 0 in favor of new sanctions. And last week, a bipartisan group of 14 senators sent a letter to Obama pledging to move forward with new sanctions and expressing concern about a final deal that would allow Iran to continue enriching uranium.
The fact that Congress seemed determined to impose new sanctions only added to the urgency for the Obama administration to strike a deal.
The State Department, CNN reported last week, "is in a race against the clock to close a deal, before Congress makes good on its threat to impose new sanctions against Iran."
The Times reported that the deal's "limited sanctions relief can be accomplished by executive order, allowing the Obama administration to make the deal without having to appeal to Congress, where there is strong criticism of any agreement that does not fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear program."
In his Saturday night address touting the deal, Obama took a shot at Congress, declaring, "now is not the time to move forward on new sanctions."
The deal sends another signal to Iran's leaders — who have called for death to America and for the destruction of Israel — that Obama isn't serious about preventing them from obtaining a nuclear weapon.