The 16-month campaign to revert to the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement failed.
However, Rob Malley, Iran’s special envoy, refused to adopt a containment policy, even before the Senate Foreign Relations Panel. Congress may now establish a new course.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, agrees and recently vowed to craft a new Iran strategy. Menendez need not start from scratch to restore Congress’ Iran role.
Modernizing and strengthening the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) might help Congress oversee the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The claim that JCPOA was concluded w/o congress' consent is a myth. The 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act authorized POTUS to negotiate w/ Iran & set its procedural rules! JCPOA falls under the category of (ex ante) congressional-executive agreements like most US int'l deals
— Reza Nasri (@RezaNasri1) August 30, 2020
INARA guarantees Congress the right to analyze and vote on any Iran nuclear deal.
INARA is also the only way to assure Congress has a vote in Iran discussions because the Biden administration refuses to submit any deal to the Senate as a treaty.
The problem is, this law was drafted with Iran’s 2015 talks in mind. INARA was already feeble; right now, it is aging.
Steps To Be Taken
INARA was drafted shortsightedly.
It generally required a 30-day timeframe for congressional consideration of any nuclear agreement with Iran. However, it extended the review process to 60 days to prevent then-President Obama from circumventing the process during the August 2015 break.
Seven years ago, protection against recess submissions expired. Congress should either permanently extend the 60-day review period or apply it to all future recesses.
The Biden admin’s Iran policy is collapsing, & it is well past time for Congress to intervene using a key tool it crafted in 2015: the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA).
— Andrea Stricker (@StrickerNonpro) September 28, 2021
The Biden-led Department of State argued to government attorneys for nearly a year that it was only “re-implementing” a contract already filed with Congress.
Malley ultimately promised the Senate last month that the administration would present the current arrangement.
Congress shouldn’t base its supervision on unelected officials’ whims. Congress must declare that submission conditions apply, regardless of the JCPOA’s earlier evaluation.
Furthermore, White House staff neutered INARA under threat of veto. INARA was unduly deferential to the executive branch in determining whether deals were allowed.
The amended legislation reduced the number of senators needed to approve a contract from 67 to 34.
As Congress planned before the president threatened to veto the bill, INARA should be changed so a majority vote is needed to move forward with a new Iran deal.
Since any agreement with Iran would entail lifting legislative sanctions, Congress should specify deal terms upfront. This lets Congress decide Iran’s policy.
The Iranian dictatorship uses policy shifts in new governments to delay its provocations. This will bolster U.S. negotiators’ position in future discussions and guarantee they won’t succumb to Iranians in the end.
It promotes future contract permanence. Congress might add to INARA’s certification components. Congress should insist any deal must limit Iran’s nuclear enrichment permanently.
Any deal should oblige Iran to be honest with the IAEA about the existence of nuclear equipment at undisclosed nuclear facilities. Congress must tie any sanctions release to financial transparency standards for the regime to prevent terrorism funding.
Democrats and Republicans may disagree on specifics.
Nevertheless, they must concur that U.S. foreign policy would indeed be better served by Congress creating a proper, bipartisan Iran approach, setting firm negotiating criteria/guidelines, and restoring our punitive measures structure to force Iran back to the negotiating table.
Congress should act.