It's not as if Republicans didn't warn us about violating the Iran deal

It's not as if Republicans didn't warn us about violating the Iran deal
With a condescending lesson on the US constitution, Republican senators warned Iran about entering into a deal with Obama which his successor could undo 'with a stroke of a pen'.
3 min read
09 May, 2018
The JCPOA was Obama and Kerry's signature foreign policy accomplishment [Getty]
Republican senators in 2015 warned Iran about making an agreement with President Barack Obama, saying any pact could be reversed "with the stroke of a pen" as soon as he left office.

Fast forward three years, and the landmark nuclear deal with five other world powers lies in tatters.

On Tuesday, a long-awaited decision by Obama's successor, President Donald Trump, saw the US withdraw from the deal, with the president signing a memorandum to reinstate crippling sanctions on Tehran.

He was fulfilling a warning from March 2015 - as negotiations with Tehran led by then-Secretary of State John Kerry grew close to reaching an agreement - in which 47 Republican senators sent an open letter to Iranian leaders, stating any deal made with Obama could be undone as soon as his presidency ended in January 2017.

"...Most of us will remain in office well beyond then - perhaps decades," the senators wrote.

It was an unprecedented intervention which sought to undermine two-and-a-half years of diplomatic negotiations to strike a deal with Iran to curb its nuclear programme. Then Vice President Joe Biden slammed the "dangerous" intrusion.

"In thirty-six years in the United States Senate, I cannot recall another instance in which Senators wrote directly to advise another country - much less a longtime foreign adversary - that the president does not have the constitutional authority to reach a meaningful understanding with them," he said.

From the archives: Donald Trump doesn't understand the art of the Iran deal

The open letter was addressed to "leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran" and warned that any deal without legislative approval could be reversed by the next president "with the stroke of a pen".

Drafted by Senator Tom Cotton, and signed by all but seven members of the Senate Republican majority, it came with a condescending lesson on the US constitution.

"It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system," said the letter.

It added: "We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time."

On Tuesday, after months of rubbishing the "horrible" deal that saw Iran limit its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, Trump announced the US' withdrawal from the pact.

European signatories to the JCPOA - France, Britain and Germany - said they remain committed to the deal. Iran has said Washington's rejection of the agreement forced it to consult instead "with the world's two superpowers - Russia and China".

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