US Congress Revving Up to Scuttle Global Diplomatic Momentum With Iran?

The historic nuclear agreement with the P5+1 powers (US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) and Iran settled on November 23 is now at jeopardy within the US law making body. Republicans and Democrats alike are possibly moving to void the Obama Administration backed accord that lifts certain sanctions in regards to Iran. Congress may also impose new sanctions on Iran. Both are not likely to interfere with the accord.

“I think you’ll have sanctions coming out in the next couple of weeks, actually, that will be bipartisan and tie the sanctions to the endgame,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

Since crippling the Iranian economy for their defiance with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and growing uranium enrichment process, the P5+1 nuclear accord offered with Iran offered them a lifting of certain economic sanctions in exchange for a six month trial that checked their nuclear program; attempts to guarantee civilian only use nuclear materials and slowed down any large scale program in place.

The other option that Israel vied for has been a first strike option. The US came close to this military option through a strange fumbling collaboration of coercive diplomacy, military containment and forward deployable force entertainment in the Persian Gulf. Yet this gradually shifted into the reliance of extreme economic sanctions. Still there is little evidence that Iran discontinued a potential nuclear weapons program. The military option was seen as too costly and ineffective. Bombing hardened facilities might be possible but even if the targets were golden, the intelligence was spot on and the American people were all on board, there is the thought of Iraq. What if there is no program and how can it be proven?

Second, even if there is, the bombs cannot stop the making of an Iranian nuclear bomb in the long-term. A missile or airstrike would only effect the short term. Such a kinetic solution was extremely limited. Moreover, the population of almost 80 million people would grow from potential reformists to more extreme radicals.

This go at diplomacy is in many ways the best mutual arrangement. Iran gets back frozen money in international bank accounts; they can trade again in the oil sector and more internal jobs for its people and can take the credit. Meanwhile, the West gets into Iran and gets a fresh look at what’s going on through direct open access. Much will depend on the quality and extent of inspections for the verification process. Will they keep their word?

A political means for a worst case scenario is more than justified but not the derailing of a goodwill start-up, via multinational diplomacy with Iran. The ability to quickly respond or to have legal measures in place should Iran betray the trust of the US and the international community, along with other military and security perpetration, should be welcomed on all sides. The important thing to remember is that trust is not assured in any dealings with the Islamic Republic and caution is met with contingency planning.

Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez, favors a delayed action where a sanctions bill against Iran is passed now but only goes into effect after the six month interim period if Iran fails to comply with neutralizing their uranium enrichment and harsh inspections. Other proposals are more expediently in opposition to any deals with Iran and fall in line with the Israeli position and powerful lobbies in that camp.

One should be very surprised but pleased, however, if Iran does live up to the nuclear arrangement over the next six months of the interim accord. American diplomacy has great potential and can work wonders if the language and timing is right. Yet putting faith into negotiation backed by American and international power again is difficult and will require a more out-of-the-box frame of mind in conducting international affairs.

Brett Daniel Shehadey
Special Contributor for In Homeland Security

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