October 16, 2021

Tom Cotton: Without releasing Iran side deal documents, Obama is in violation of the law he just signed

CALABRESE080415Rob told you earlier that the Obama Administration admits what everyone could plainly see about why the Iran nuclear deal wasn’t treated as a treaty. Because the Constitution requires treaties to be ratified by the Senate, and Obama and Kerry know there’s no chance of that happening with this turkey.

That’s obviously a blatant disregarding of the Constitution, but that’s hardly unusual for this administration. What is harder to understand is why a Republican Congress went ahead and passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which created a statutory if clearly unconstitutional process by which Obama can still get something like congressional approval even if all he’s doing is just barely sustaining the veto of an act of disapproval. There is already a process by which the president can get approval. It’s called treaty ratification, and it requires two-thirds of the Senate. For congressional Republicans to give Obama an alternative to that is one of the most mind-blowingly stupid things I can ever remember them doing. And that’s saying something.

But it gets worse. Senator Tom Cotton, writing in collaboration with Congressman Mike Pompeo, explains in today’s Wall Street Journal that Obama isn’t even meeting the low bar of legality set by this law. Because in submitting the agreement for approval (which, remember, is presumed unless Congress passed a veto-proof bill of disapproval), Obama is failing to meet a requirement clearly spelled out in the act to submit the details of all side agreements – including those between Iran and the UN.

Cotton and Pompeo make it clear there is no room for confusion or interpretation on this point. It’s right in the act:

During a recent trip to Vienna to meet with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the organization charged with verifying Iran’s compliance, we learned that certain elements of this deal are—and will remain—secret. According to the IAEA, those involved with the negotiations, including the Obama administration, agreed to allow Iran to forge the secret side deals with the IAEA on two issues.

The first governs the IAEA’s inspection of the Parchin military complex, the facility long suspected as the site of Iran’s long-range ballistic-missile and nuclear-weapons development. The second addresses what—if anything—Iran will be required to disclose about the past military dimensions of its nuclear program.

Yet the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act specifically says that Congress must receive all nuclear agreement documents, including any related to agreements “entered into or made between Iran and any other parties.” It expressly includes “side agreements.” This requirement is not strictly limited to agreements to which the U.S. is a signatory. This law passed in May, well before the nuclear negotiations ended. The Obama administration should have held firm in negotiations to obtain what was necessary for Congress to review the agreement. Iran, not the U.S., should have conceded on this point.

Weaponization lies at the heart of our dispute with Iran and is central to determining whether this deal is acceptable. Inspections of Parchin are necessary to ensure that Iran is adhering to its end of the agreement. Without knowing this baseline, inspectors cannot properly evaluate Iran’s compliance. It’s like beginning a diet without knowing your starting weight. That the administration would accept side agreements on these critical issues—and ask the U.S. Congress to do the same—is irresponsible.

It’s irresponsible in the extreme, but what’s new? That’s how the Obama White House always acts. What really matters now is what Congress will do. If Obama has not submitted all the information the act requires, then Congress cannot hold a vote and it should instead make clear that he is in violation of the law and there is no agreement with Iran.

If Mitch McConnell and John Boehner hold a vote on the agreement when Obama hasn’t submitted all the information the law requires, they are once again facilitating his lawlessness. This should be non-negotiable. It’s right in the law Obama signed. No compliance, no vote, no agreement with Iran. And if Obama wants to proceed regardless as if the agreement is in force, which he will, then he should be impeached and removed from office.

What kind of pathetic country are we if we keep putting up with this?