Monday, March 9, 2015

GOP Senators Issue Warning on Iran Nuclear Deal

At WSJ, "GOP Senators Warn Iran’s Leaders on Nuclear Deal":

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama on Monday sharply criticized an open letter by 47 Senate Republicans warning Iran’s leaders that any agreement between the White House and Tehran on nuclear weapons could be quickly nullified or changed once Mr. Obama leaves office.

The lawmakers were effectively aligning themselves with Iranian hardliners who oppose an international nuclear deal, Mr. Obama said.

The letter, which was signed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and a number of top committee chairmen, came as a major new complication in a debate over international nuclear talks that face a March 31 deadline.

Senators said that, unless approved by Congress, any agreement between world powers and Iran would be seen by GOP lawmakers as an executive agreement between Mr. Obama and Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei and could lapse when a future administration takes over, or undergo modifications by lawmakers.

The senators noted that Mr. Obama will leave office in January 2017, while “most of us will remain in office well beyond then—perhaps decades.

“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,” said the letter.

Mr. Obama criticized the Republican outreach.

“I think it’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran,” the president told reporters in the Oval Office. “It’s an unusual coalition.”

Mr. Obama said his focus was on getting to an agreement with Iran that would allow the country to develop a nuclear energy program while ensuring that it could not be weaponized.

“I think what we’re going to focus on right now is actually seeing whether we can get a deal or not,” he said. “Once we do—if we do—we’ll be able to make the case to the American people.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that world relations are based on international obligations and commitments, “not based on the domestic U.S. laws.”

Any future annulment of U.S. commitments would be “an obvious violation of international laws, particularly if these commitments lie within the framework of a U.N. Security Council resolution and are the result of negotiations and agreement with five other countries which are permanent members of the Security Council,” Mr. Zarif said.

Those signing the letter included Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R., Ariz.), as well as 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas.

Notably absent from the signatories was Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who has been in the middle of discussions with the White House about the direction of negotiations...