There seems to be some confusion at the moment (Tuesday, April 7th 2015) about where we currently stand on our negotiations with Iran on its nuclear weapons program (and that’s exactly what it is folks.)
Have we signed a treaty with Iran? If not when do we expect to do that? If we do sign a treaty will Congress approve it? If not why not?
President Obama is saying that the impending “deal” he hopes to make with Iran is not a “treaty” at all, but an “executive agreement.” A “treaty” would have to be approved through the “advice and consent” of the U.S. Senate (https://law.duke.edu/ilrt/treaties_3.htm.) With the Republicans in charge of the Senate it is unlikely they would approve the President’s “deal” with Iran. Whether this “deal” is a “treaty” or an “executive agreement” is, of course, splitting hairs.
The House of Representatives could impeach President Obama for going around them and entering into a “treaty” unconstitutionally but they won’t do that (http://blindpirate.com/should-president-obama-be-impeached.) All hell would break loose in Washington. With so few months left in office, by the time whatever happens actually happens it won’t be worth the political backlash from impeaching President Obama. Better to just let him leave office and then begin damage control.
Here’s another interesting article on treaties and executive agreements http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2015/03/10/treaties-vs-executive-agreements-when-does-congress-get-a-vote.
But I digress…
The truth is that there is no signed agreement at this point – “treaty”, “executive agreement” or otherwise – only some “diplomatic notes” taken by each side. These “diplomatic notes” have spurred celebrations in the streets of Tehran and dozens of newspaper article articles pro and con here in America.
The U.S. State Department hopes to reach a “signable” agreement sometime in June… we’ll see. Once we enter that phase I suspect that Iran will once again begin dragging its feet. A “signable” agreement may not come for many more months.
Here’s what’s known at this point in time…
On Sanctions; according to Iran, sanctions will be lifted immediately after a final agreement is signed, but according to the U.S., sanctions will be conditionally lifted in phases.
On Stockpiles; regarding its stockpile of enriched uranium, Iran says it will not be shipped out of the country, while the U.S. says a large part of it will be transferred to Russia – the U.S. version of the deal says restrictions on uranium enrichment will last 15 years, while the Iranian version says 10 years.
On Inspections; the U.S. says Iran has agreed to regular surprise inspections of its nuclear facilities, while Iran says its consent to this is only temporary. Another difference is on the matter of advanced centrifuge development at the Fordo enrichment facility. Iran says the development of these centrifuges can continue, while the U.S. says it cannot and that the Fordo enrichment facility will be turned into a nuclear research center.
Pretty significant differences, but at this point in negotiations this is how diplomacy works.
Once we have a “signable” agreement the Obama administration, the U.S. Congress and probably the Federal Courts will begin the debate about whether that agreement is a “treaty” or an “executive agreement.”
I personally believe that President Obama will be forced by overwhelming political pressure to take his “signable” agreement to Congress for their approval, whether it’s officially called a “treaty” or an “executive agreement.” At that point I don’t think there will be sufficient support in Congress for him to proceed, and he’ll have to either let the deal die, modify it or proceed on his own. Of course if he goes it alone he’ll own the thing – for all time – good or bad.
Since I believe that President Obama is weak and feckless I suspect that faced with no support from Congress he’ll fly into a huff and give up, blaming the whole thing on the Republicans, and of course the media will back that narrative. After that the Republicans will own the whole thing – for all time – good or bad.
Regardless of whether Iran ever holds to any deal, or if they ever get a nuclear weapon, you can bet that history will record two things. The first is that President Obama “pursued diplomatic options to the last degree”, and the second is that no matter what happens the fault will not lie with Obama but with either his predecessor (Democrat or Republican) who screwed up a “good deal” once Obama leaves office (“hey, we were winning when I left!”), or with the Republicans who blew the deal even before it could come to fruition (http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/03/16/senators-iran-letter-shows-deteriorating-respect-for-the-oval-office.)
Either way this goes President Obama will consider that he personally has won because he’s just that arrogant. Forget about the safety of the world!
No matter how screwed up many of us think President Obama is you can bet that he sleeps well at night thinking that he has done the very best for America and for the world. He doesn’t see the same world as many of us. He sees a world without real evil, where one man’s terrorist is another man’s patriot, and where Islam is a religion of peace.
Check these three sources for more information on the current state of negotiations…