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As the Ink Cools on the Iran Nuclear Agreement, Debate Heats Up

As the Ink Cools on the Iran Nuclear Agreement, Debate Heats Up

Negotiators from the P5+1 and Iran have concluded their 20-month long negotiations process with an agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program, but the agreement still faces major hurdles and a divided country as it moves towards implementation. Chief among these is the 60-day review period mandated by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (often known as the Corker-Cardin bill), which the Reform Movement supported.

Monday morning, the US State Department sent Congress the text of the Iran deal, starting the clock for the 60-day review period, during which the President cannot lift congressionally-imposed sanctions on Iran. President Obama has promised a veto if Congress votes to prohibit the President from lifting sanctions, so to prohibit the President from lifting sanctions after the review period, Congress must act to override his veto within 12 days.

It’s a lot of weird, technical timing, but the key takeaway is that the debate over the nuclear agreement is here to stay, at least for the next two months. Already, we’re seeing groups start to pressure Members of Congress to vote for and against the deal, chief among them the pro-Israel groups AIPAC (which opposes the deal) and J Street (which supports the deal). Opponents of the deal face an uphill battle in convincing 2/3 of the Senate and House to buck the President in such an important foreign policy issue.

Yet, much of the major sanctions relief in this agreement comes not from congressionally-imposed sanctions, but instead those imposed by the United Nations. On Monday, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to endorse a legally-binding mechanism, both for lifting sanctions on Iran once Iran takes the necessary steps to verify its nuclear program will be for peaceful purposes, and for re-imposing sanctions if Iran does not live up to the agreement (the so-called “snap back” mechanism). The vote angered Members of Congress who saw the move as preempting Congress’ role in influencing U.S. foreign policy.

As the deal continues along towards implementation, much has been made in the press about the possible consequences of the deal and the options available to each party. Among some of the most interesting pieces:

  • Jeffrey Lewis, a nonproliferation expert writing in Foreign Policy, talks about how the deal ensures Iran will not get a nuclear weapon.
  • Foreign policy expert Robert Satloff, writing in the New York Daily News, calls into question the verification procedures contained in the deal.
  • Ari Shavit, one of Israel’s foremost writers, raises concerns about the deal in
  • J. Golberg writes about his conversation with Ami Ayalon, a former head of the Shin Bet, about why the deal is the best option available in the Jewish Daily Forward.
  • And three contributors to The Atlantic, David Frum, Jeffrey Goldberg and Peter Beinart, engage in a civil debate over why they support or oppose the deal.

To stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the Iran talks, check the RACblog, and to learn more information about Reform Movement’s position on Iran, visit our Iran issue page.

Published: 7/21/2015

Categories: Social Justice