Lawmakers to WH: You really need to beef up this emerging Iranian deal

Obama administration officials are getting ready to jet off to Geneva again for the continuation of negotiations with the Iranians over some kind of sanction/nuclear-drawdown tradeoff (so rudely interrupted by the French delegation’s objects the other week), and in preparation for administering the diplomatic atmosphere they think apparently believe will be most conducive for an initial deal, President Obama personally made the pitch to a group of senators on Wednesday afternoon asking that they continue to hang back on furthering sanctions, per USA Today:


Obama spent two hours with the top Democrats and Republicans on the Senate armed services, banking, foreign relations and intelligence committees and walked the lawmakers through the parameters of interim deal that negotiators from the P5+1 (U.S., Russia, China, United Kingdom, France and Germany) are pursuing in talks in Geneva.

“They were very explicit about what they think they may be able to achieve,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said after the meeting. …

Corker said that some lawmakers who participated in the meeting were “satisfied” and some were “very unsatisfied” with what the president and his aides had to say.

“People are concerned…that we’re giving up some leverage,” Corker said.

Bipartisan groups of both senators and House representatives, meanwhile, signaled to the White House on Wednesday that the emerging Iranian deal for which they are reportedly pushing doesn’t go nearly far enough in getting some honest concessions from Iran, but certainly gives plenty away in terms of sanctions relief. Via The Hill:

“We feel strongly that any easing of sanctions along the lines that [the international community] is reportedly considering should require Iran to roll back its nuclear program more significantly than now envisioned,” six senators wrote in a letter to Kerry.

“It is our belief that any interim agreement with the Iranians should bring us closer to our ultimate goal which is Iran without a nuclear weapons capability.”

The letter in particular urges U.S. negotiators to demand that Iran suspend all uranium reprocessing, heavy water-related and enrichment-related activities and halt ongoing construction of any uranium-enrichment, reprocessing, or heavy water-related facilities. It was signed by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

On the House side, Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and ranking member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) sent President Obama a similar letter. …

“We are writing to express our great concern regarding the scope and content of the interim agreement under negotiation with Iran,” they wrote. “Mr. President, the United States cannot allow Iran to continue to advance toward a nuclear weapons capability while at the same time providing relief from the sanctions pressure we worked so hard to build, and the Administration has worked to enforce.”


Over on the other side of the world, with the Obama administration not really endeavoring to hide their growing rift and apparently with France as their only allied holdout against the interim deal (and maybe not even them), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is prepping to make his case for nixing the deal to… the Kremlin? What?

At odds with ally Washington over an emerging nuclear agreement with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will on Wednesday take his campaign against the deal to Moscow.

Russia is a member of the P5+1 group — alongside the United States, China, France, Britain and Germany — which has been struggling to reach a deal to freeze or curb Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for some relief from international sanctions. …

“We’d like (the Russians) to have a better understanding of our concerns and the need to prevent Iran from having a breakout capacity,” an Israeli official told AFP ahead of the trip.

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David Strom 5:00 PM | May 23, 2024