WHEN IS A TREATY NOT A TREATY?
As the news unfolds regarding the Iranian deal, it appears that anyone who wants to make a killing in a poker game could not pick better opponents than Barack Obama and John Kerry. It seems they will agree to anything to make a deal.
A little history is always useful. In 1953, the United States through the CIA overthrew the prime minister of Iran, Muhammad Mossadegh. There is argument over whether or not he was aligned with the communist party of Iran and would have aligned Iran with Russia.
After Mossadegh was overthrown, the Shah of Iran became the ruler. Was he always a benevolent ruler? Probably not. However, he was not intent on destroying the United States. Jimmy Carter supported the Ayatollah Khomenei who overthrew the Shah. It has been a downhill road since then.
The current Ayatollah and his party have been very clear about their ultimate goals. Eliminate Israel and also get rid of the Great Satan, the United States. These people do not use euphemisms about what they plan to do.
The Vienna Agreement which John Kerry has been busy negotiating has the Obama Administration agreeing to dismantle sanctions and legitimize Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for temporary restrictions on uranium enrichment, greater (but still limited) access for United Nations inspectors and promises to comply with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Keeping promises is not one of Iran’s strong suits. If Iran goes back on the agreement, international sanctions will be almost impossible to put back in place.
The agreement further states that after 15 years, the limitations on Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium are ended and enrichment activities can be moved outside of the Natanz facility and scaled up massively. Do we trust Iran and the 15 year time period?
The nuclear expansion will be paid for with the sanctions relief when frozen assets are released. That amount is estimated at up to $150 Billion. Tens of billions more will come from expanded oil revenues after sanctions are ended.
At the last moment, the Obama administration agreed to a lifting of the United Nations arms embargo in five years. This will allow Iran to upgrade its conventional weapons through imports from foreign suppliers and more easily arm foreign allies and surrogates.
This agreement has opened up a race in the Middle East among the states that fear Iran. Many countries will be planning to buy or develop their own nuclear weapons. Many of those countries are not in support of Iran and do not trust Iranian intentions. The Arab states, especially in the Gulf, are united in their opposition to this deal.
Now, when it comes to the United States Senate approving this agreement, another whole scenario plays out. President Obama executed this deal as an executive agreement, not as a treaty. Significant international obligations have always been established through treaties which require a 2/3 vote in the Senate. Instead, Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Act of 2015. The authors were Senator Corker of Tennessee and Senator Cardin of Maryland.
This law requires a veto-proof majority in both houses of Congress to block elements of the Iran deal related to U. S. sanctions relief. The act does not require congressional approval for the agreement as a whole.
In July, the United Nations Security Council endorsed the Iran deal. The resolution, adopted under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, legally binds all member states including the United States. It is possible that the Congress can summon a veto-proof majority to block the President’s ability to effect sanctions relief. Therefore, the administration may not be able to comply with the very treaty it has created.
Secretary Kerry defended the administration’s decision not to take the treaty route with Iran because it had “been clear from the beginning we’re not negotiating a legally binding plan.” Taking this treaty to the Security Council has enabled the administration to bind the U.S. under international law without Senate consent.
The U.N. resolution puts the United States in the position of renouncing its obligations only at the cost of being branded an international lawbreaker. Iran can pronounce that it has the legal high ground and the next U.S. President will have a much harder time to undo the deal.
A fact to remember is that shortly after Barack Obama became President there was a revolution in Iran led by students who wanted the repression of the regime ended. President Obama did nothing to support the students and the revolt was mercilessly put down. Would the situation regarding nuclear weapons be different now if there had been a change in government?
The founding fathers were very wise is setting up three branches of government with each being a check on the other two. We have a President who does not wish to work with the Congress and so we have a very bad and potentially very dangerous deal.
As a citizen, you have the option of contacting your Congressional Representative and your United States Senator and expressing your opinion about this agreement.