Netanyahu’s Congress and Iran’s nuclear deal

The Iran-P5+1 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement is a major breakthrough in international diplomacy and points to a hopeful outcome for a region that has become accustomed to disappointment and chaos. After three years of long, intense multiple negotiation sessions, the concluded agreement provides for a pathway to resolve issues related to Iranian nuclear development and with it, the possible lifting of economic sanctions. The critical question is whether the U.S. Congress will support the U.S. commander-in-chief, President Obama’s diplomatic breakthrough or will Netanyahu and AIPAC be able to derail the agreement?

Obama’s deal includes a joint monitoring system and verifiable inspections that can limit Iran’s nuclear enrichment capacity, reduce by two-thirds existing stockpiles of low enriched uranium by 98 percent, as well as curtail the use of nuclear facilities. According to the released text: “The goal … is to reach a mutually agreed long-term comprehensive solution that would ensure Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful.” On its part, “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will” it “ever seek or develop any nuclear weapons.” More importantly, “the accord will keep Iran from producing enough material for an atomic weapon for at least 10 years” and possibly longer.The agreement will still “enable Iran to fully enjoy its right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes,” while adhering to “the relevant articles of the NPT in conformity with its obligations therein.” Furthermore, the concluded agreement “would involve a reciprocal step-by step process and would produce the comprehensive lifting of all U.N. Security Council sanctions, as well as multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program.”

Opposition to the agreement was swift and expected, which included the Israeli government and many of its congressional supporters in the Republican and Democratic parties, as well as the pro-war neo-conservatives. Prime Minister Netanyahu responded by affirming that Israel “reserves” the “right to defend” itself “against all of … enemies,” while boasting: “We have strength, and it is great and mighty.” Isaac Herzog, the leader of Israel’s Labor Party, likewise expressed opposition to the deal and announced his intention to travel to the U.S. to lobby for a military compensation package to insure Israel’s regional superiority. More to the point, Herzog posted on his Facebook page a video in which he indicated that he had already communicated with AIPAC’s officials and other pro-Israel US groups to push for more military aid. In addition, Herzog will “ask that Israel get a security umbrella and a series of steps to allow Israel to maintain its advantage in the region due to the new reality coming out of the deal.” How much more funding and military support will Israel get for Netanyahu to permit the U.S. Congress to support President Obama’s foreign policy on Iran!

Opposition also included parts of the Arab world that are allied with Israel, including members of the Gulf Cooperation Council who view this as an incomplete agreement because it leaves Iran’s nuclear program operational. For the Gulf States and despite the 10-year delay, the deal keeps the potential for a future Iranian nuclear bomb intact. In addition, the lifting of sanctions, maintain leaders in the Arab world, would allow Iran to use the increased resources to project a more robust regional role and provide the financial ability to support proxy wars in Syria and Yemen.

The pro-Israel neo-conservatives were up in arms and are preparing for a fight on Capital Hill to support Netanyahu and oppose Obama at all costs. John Bolton was quick in opposition and posted on twitter: “History repeating with Iran Deal. Same strategy failed in N Korea will fail now.” Furthermore, Bolton provided a link to a petition stating: “Barack Obama, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton have created a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Iran is our enemy and Iran with nuclear weapons threatens Israel and other friends and key American interests. Iran provides money and weapons to the Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Assad. Appeasement never eliminates threats.”

As expected, Michael Rubin at the pro-Israel American Enterprise Institute, the neo-conservative outfit, was arrogantly insulting in his opposition to the agreement declaring, “Obama is wrong. Coercion can work; indeed, it is an important part of strategy and he and his aides are naive to believe otherwise.” As it stands, the agreement with Iran will face a difficult uphill battle on Capital Hill where a Republican Majority is ready once again to oppose Obama’s foreign policy initiatives and continue to push Netanyahu and Israel’s first agenda in Washington.

In the next days and weeks, AIPAC’s power will be on full display in attempting to scuttle the agreement. Will President Obama and the American public be able to mobilize sufficient grassroots support to push back Netanyahu and the neo-conservative warmongers and Israel’s first D.C. crowd. The real question that must be asked is: When will Netanyahu and Israel’s pile of un-inspected or regulated nuclear weapons stockpile be open to the U.N., U.S. and the International Atomic Energy Agency? It is not going to happen anytime soon!