U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says they’re close. Very close. To reaching an agreement. Six Western nations with Iran. Over Iran’s nuclear program. But there is skepticism, fear and distrust by the Israelis. So much so that there’s a massive effort to win some Democratic votes over to the Republican side. To insure that any measure blocking an agreement in Congress is veto-proof.
Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian-Council says, thus far, there aren’t enough votes to override a presidential veto. But that could change during the prescribed review process.
“Who knows what will happen over the next 30 or 60 days,” he says.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused the U.S. Congress of interfering in preliminary negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program on Wednesday.
As he addressed a large crowd in the city of Rasht, Rouhani emphasized that Tehran is dealing with world powers, not American lawmakers.
“What the U.S. Senate says, or what the U.S. House of Representatives want, or what the extremists in the U.S. are looking for, or what the U.S. mercenaries in the region say, it doesn’t have anything to do with our government or our people,” said Rouhani.
The Iranian president’s remarks were a clear response to President Obama agreeing to sign legislation on Tuesday that would allow Congress to reject a final nuclear deal with Iran. The bill is expected to pass both the Senate and the House.
A framework agreement was reached earlier this month and a finalized deal is scheduled to be reached by June 30 this year. Negotiation talks between the P5+1 and Iran over the curbing of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting economic sanctions have been blasted and opposed by 47 Republican Senators and other members of Congress, as well Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Rouhani said that the disputes between the Obama administration and Congress are an “internal issue.”
“Our partner is not the U.S. Congress or the Senate, our partner is a group called ‘5+1?,” he said. Rouhani was referring to the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany that are currently involved in negotiations with Iran.
Rouhani also reiterated that no deal would be reached if economic sanctions on Iran were not lifted. “Everybody must know that if there is no end to the sanctions in the agreement, there will be no agreement.”
WASHINGTON – Key congressional negotiators are confident they can strike a bipartisan agreement on an Iran bill just hours ahead of an afternoon committee vote on the bill today. Foreign Relations Committee chair Sen Bob Corker (R-TN) spent the weekend negotiating with ranking member Sen Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who co-wrote the bill with Corker.
Corker’s going to need all the votes he can muster once the bill reaches the Senate floor. President Obama is likely to threaten a veto even though Corker has offered concessions. Monday afternoon, Corker briefed Republicans for about 40 minutes on the panel. He then turned the room over to Cardin so that Democrats could talk things over. But Sen Chris Coons (D-DE), an undecided Democrat who has spearheaded the effort to dilute a requirement that the admininistration certify that Iran is not directly sponsoring terrorism against the U.S. and shorten the congressional review time frame, said Obama is still likely to veto the measure.
Privately, some Democrats are beginning to urge Obama to cut a deal with Corker to allow Congress a vote on the Iran proposal. Once Corker’s panel finishes its work today, the bill is likely to come to the full Senate floor this month, then House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said the House would pass it quickly after Senate action.
Sources say the administration has three concerns with Corker’s bill: that it requires the U.S. certify that Iran is not directly supporting terrorism against the U.S., that it blocks Obama from quickly lifting legislative sanctions, and that it comes before the 30 June deadline for finalizing the nuclear deal.
Can you imagine a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a Joint session of Congress where the “joint” part is an illusion, since the Democrats will be “too busy to attend”? What will that half empty chamber look like? How will his message be received, be remembered?
I can already see the headlines on the morning-after if that occurs. It will be about the empty seats, not about the real issue concerning the danger of letting Iran off the hook, of letting them sustain the capability and the means for developing a nuclear bomb.
Among those not committed to attend; Vice President Joe Biden. His absence would be viewed as a major slap in the face of the prime minister.
There are several factors in play here. One has to do with Netanyahu. The other with House Speaker John Boehner.
On the one hand, the president doesn’t want to be lectured, directly or indirectly, by Netanyahu, over his negotiations with Iran. Which include no additional sanctions. Netanyahu is very concerned about all this. And will lay out to Congress his reasons why.
The other issue has to do with protocol. Boehner’s failure to notify the White House before announcing Netanyahu’s scheduled address.
Either way, this underscores the rift, not necessarily between the United States and Israel, but certainly between the president and the prime minister.
Former congressman and current Talk Radio News Service correspondent Bob Ney talks with Gary Baumgarten at the Paltalk News Network about how John Boehner’s bold political move – inviting Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress without first notifying the White House – could backfire.