Today, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress. His goal? To scuttle the ongoing diplomacy that seeks to achieve a diplomatic agreement and verifiably curb Iran's nuclear program. After his speech, AIPAC conference-goers are flooding the Hill, meeting with Members of Congress and staff, with the goal of amplifying Netanyahu’s arguments.
AIPAC supporters will be asking Senators to support and cosponsor two pieces of Iran legislation – S. 269 and S. 615. Both bills are entirely unnecessary, and both risk undermining the ongoing diplomacy with the P5+1 – leaving the U.S. isolated and bringing the U.S. closer to the point where it will be forced to choose between a nuclear-armed Iran and another Middle East war.
AIPAC supporters will be telling Senators that S. 269 – which seeks to legislate new Iran sanctions that would be triggered if no deal with Iran is reached – is necessary preparation for the possibility that talks may fail. They will argue that S. 615 – which seeks to delay implementation of a deal, legislate Congressional approval/disapproval of that deal, and impose Congressional oversight and conditions on any deal’s implementation – is necessary preparation for the possibility that talks may succeed. Neither argument passes the laugh test.
If Iran negotiations break down due to Iran’s unwillingness to agree to compromises acceptable to the P5+1, Congress can move swiftly to pass new sanctions legislation at that time. Likewise, Congress does not need new legislation, now or in the future, to assert its right to have oversight over an Iran agreement. Implementation of any agreement will require Congress to take action to lift sanctions; if Congress opposes an agreement, it can refuse to do so, or place conditions on any lifting of sanctions. Should Congress so deeply oppose an agreement that it wants to block its implementation, Congress can assert its will through new sanctions and other measures.
In short, there is no reason for the Senate to be moving either of these pieces of legislation, other than either a naive belief that more pressure from Congress can induce Iran to yield more at the negotiating table – a belief rejected not only by the Obama Administration but by its P5+1 partners – or a reckless desire to deliberately derail negotiations and undermine the very possibility of a diplomatic solution to the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program.
Director, Policy & Government Relations
Americans for Peace Now
P.S. If you want to learn more about the threat these legislative initiatives pose, listen to our recent briefing call Iran Briefing Call with Joseph Cirincione and Larry Hanauer. If you want to learn more about the debate surrounding Iran negotiations, check out our new publication, 11 Bogus Arguments Bibi Will Likely Be Making Against an Iran Deal. And for more expert insight into Netanyahu’s speech and the Israel angle of an Iran deal, check out this week’s “Hard Questions, Tough Answers” with Yossi Alpher.
P.P. S. If you haven’t already done so, please amplify your message by signing our new MoveOn.org petition, “Don’t Let Netanyahu & Friends Abort an Iran Deal.”
P.P.S. You can further amplify your message by posting on Twitter or Facebook. Here are some sample tweets:
- I stand with @PeaceNowUS against new diplomacy-killing Iran bills in the Senate! You should too! http://bit.ly/AIPAConIran
- Give Iran diplomacy a chance – join @PeaceNowUS in telling Senate: NO to S 269 and S 215 http://bit.ly/AIPAConIran
- Don’t let Bibi & AIPAC abort an Iran deal! Tell Senators today to reject new Iran legislation 215 http://bit.ly/AIPAConIran