Republicans Risk Nuclear Annihilation by Meddling President U.S. Barrak Obama’s Affairs
President Barak Obama has every reason to be angry with the Republican members of the U.S. Congress going behind his back in sending their own letter to Iran, attempting to deflate the U.S. president’s negotiating stance keep Iran from getting the bomb.
According to a New York Times story by Peter Baker, the fractious debate over a possible nuclear deal with Iran escalated on Monday as 47 Republican senators warned Iran about making an agreement with President Obama, and the White House accused them of undercutting foreign policy.
In a rare direct congressional intervention into diplomatic negotiations, the Republicans signed an open letter addressed to “leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” declaring that any agreement without legislative approval could be reversed by the next president “with the stroke of a pen.”
While the possible agreement has drawn bipartisan criticism, the letter, signed only by Republicans, underscored the increasingly party-line flavor of the clash. Just last week, the Republican House speaker, John A. Boehner, gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel the platform of a joint meeting of Congress to denounce the developing deal, and Senate Republicans briefly tried to advance legislation aimed at forcing Mr. Obama to submit it to Congress, alienating Democratic allies.
The letter came as Secretary of State John Kerry’s office announced that he would return to Switzerland on Sunday in hopes of completing the framework agreement before an end-of-March deadline. Under the terms being discussed, Iran would pare back its nuclear program enough so that it would be unable to produce enough fuel for a bomb in less than a year if it tried to break out of the agreement. The pact would last at least 10 years; in exchange the world powers would lift sanctions.
Whether the Republican letter might undercut Iran’s willingness to strike a deal was not clear. Iran reacted with scorn. “In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy,” Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, said in a statement. “It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history.”
A senior American official said the letter probably would not stop an agreement from being reached, but could make it harder to blame Iran if the talks fail. “The problem is if there is not an agreement, the perception of who is at fault is critically important to our ability to maintain pressure, and this type of thing would likely be used by the Iranians in that scenario,” said the official, who spoke anonymously to discuss the negotiations.
The White House and congressional Democrats expressed outrage, calling the letter an unprecedented violation of the tradition of leaving politics at the water’s edge. Republicans said that by styling it as an “open letter,” it was akin to a statement, not an overt intervention in the talks.
“It’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran,” Mr. Obama told reporters. “It’s an unusual coalition.”
Other Democrats were sharper. Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, called it “just the latest in an ongoing strategy, a partisan strategy, to undermine the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy.” Senator Harry M. Reid of Nevada, the Democratic minority leader, said the “Republicans are undermining our commander in chief while empowering the ayatollahs.”
One has to wonder if the Republicans who signed the letter to Iran would have done so had Franklin Delano Roosevelt been president now.
Say it isn’t true. (Jackson Browne)
Chagan nuclear test – Russia, 1965