Sunday, August 16, 2015

Senators Flake and Schumer oppose Iran nuclear agreement (with reasons why they are wrong)

The Daily Star/tucson.com reports on Flake's decision.

Flake, a freshman who had praised President Obama for seeking a diplomatic solution, had been publicly undecided, making him a top target of the White House’s concerted lobbying campaign. Senate vote-counters had considered Flake the only truly undecided GOP vote, although his fellow Republicans had expressed confidence he would oppose it.

"I cannot vote in support of this deal," Flake said.

In a statement issued while Congress was on its annual August recess, Flake said he was concerned that the deal severely limits lawmakers’ ability to sanction Iran for activities unrelated to its nuclear program. Obama has argued that multilateral sanctions under the United Nations umbrella will be lifted under the deal, but that the U.S. will retain sanctions punishing Iran for other issues like human rights and its support for extremist groups like Hezbollah.

Whaaaa? The rationale for opposing the deal rests on stuff unrelated to the deal?

"As written, this agreement gives Iran leverage it currently doesn’t have," Flake said.

Flake’s opposition to the deal all but guarantees that no Republicans — at least in the Senate — will back the deal, which Obama hopes will form a cornerstone of his foreign policy legacy by preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon for more than a decade. The White House offered no specific reaction to Flake’s announcement, but pointed out that in the last week, seven Democrats have announced their support.

All told, 20 Senate Democrats have backed the deal, with one — New York Sen. Chuck Schumer — opposing it. Forty-six House Democrats have supported the deal, compared to 10 who are opposed.

AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona does a total take-down on the rationale for opposing the Iran nuclear deal. It's a long post but one with lots of good information about the deal and reasons why Schumer is making a bad mistake.

Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear expert, in a post at Foreign Policy eviscerates the oft-repeated talking point of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adopted by Republicans and, sadly, Sen. Chuck Shumer (D-NY) who should know better, i.e., "the 24-day delay" in inspections.

It's not 24 days - it's 24 hours!

Let’s get this straight. The agreement calls for continuous monitoring at all of Iran’s declared sites — that means all of the time — including centrifuge workshops, which are not safeguarded anywhere else in the world. Inspectors have immediate access to these sites.

Far from giving Iran 24 days, the IAEA will need to give only 24 hours’ notice before showing up at a suspicious site to take samples. Access could even be requested with as little as two hours’ notice, something that will be much more feasible now that Iran has agreed to let inspectors stay in-country for the long term. Iran is obligated to provide the IAEA access to all such sites ...

And I would add that the "military option" would quickly be back on the table should Iran so boldly cheat on this agreement. The U.S. and Israel always have the military option...

Schumer's lack of support may be less damaging to the agreement than it would appear.

But let’s not be too critical of Schumer’s insincerity. Despite having repeated these and other arguments against the Iran deal, Schumer, although a member of the Democratic leadership, has gone out of his way to signal that other caucus members should vote their conscience. Congress has a long history of members voting against agreements while working to pass them . . . Schumer appears to be . . . stating his personal opposition but not whipping votes against the deal.

In an open letter to Schumer Fareed Zakaria concludes:

Rejecting this deal would produce an Iran that ramps up its nuclear program, without inspections or constraints, with sanctions unraveling and a United States that is humiliated and isolated in the world. You cannot want this. I respectfully urge you to reconsider your position.

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