Obama Says He’ll Veto Any Legislation Blocking Iran Deal
President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced that after two years of negotiations, a final nuclear deal had been reached with Iran, one he said met every single one of the United States’ “bottom lines” laid down in a preliminary agreement in early April.
Congress, as part of the Iran Nuclear Review Act (PL 114-17), will have 60 days to review the agreement, which means any potential vote of approval or disapproval will not happen before September.
Obama said he would welcome a robust debate and scrutiny from lawmakers but he promised to “veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal.”
Obama said the long-term agreement reached by negotiators in Vienna would “phase in” U.S. and international sanctions relief for Iran as the country took steps to implement the terms of the accord. He also said that international inspectors would have “24/7” access to Iran’s “key nuclear facilities.”
“This deal demonstrates that American diplomacy can bring about real and meaningful change,” the president said in early morning remarks at the White House. “Because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region.”
The deal sketched out by the president appeared to broadly meet the framework of the preliminary April agreement between Iran and the so-called “P-5+1” world powers, which include the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
Obama said the United States would have the ability to verify whether Iran was fulfilling each of its deal commitments. He said the International Atomic Energy Agency had reached an agreement with Tehran that would allow it to complete a separate investigation into potential past military research by Iran with nuclear implications.
A key sticking point for Congress will likely be the access that Iran grants to IAEA inspectors to visit potential undeclared sites that are suspected of housing nuclear work. Congressional hawks have demanded “anytime/anywhere” access to these sites but Obama on Tuesday said the deal would grant international monitors access “where necessary, when necessary.”
Another likely bone of contention for lawmakers will be an agreement under the deal to lift a U.N. Security Council conventional weapons embargo on Iran after five years and sanctions on the sale of ballistic missile technology after eight years.
Lawmakers are also likely to have questions about the mechanism that has been developed that Obama said will allow sanctions on Iran to be “snapped back” if the country is found to be in violation of the deal.
Early reaction from Capitol Hill to the deal’s announcement was cautious with a number of lawmakers indicating they were withholding judgment until they more fully understood the terms of the accord.
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, who authored the Iran Nuclear Review Act said he comes from “a place of deep skepticism” that the deal will succeed in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. “Congress will need to scrutinize this deal and answer whether implementing the agreement is worth dismantling our painstakingly-constructed sanctions regime,” he said.
Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, also welcomed the chance for congressional review.
“Given that the deal largely hinges on what Iran must do to get relief from sanctions imposed by Congress, the American public deserves to have its elected representatives review any final deal to ensure it is in our national security interest,” Kaine said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi promised that “Congress will closely review the details of this agreement.”
“We have no illusions about the Iranian regime – or the destabilizing influence Iran continues to have in the region,” she said. “We must maintain our vigilance. All options remain on the table should Iran take any steps toward a nuclear weapon or deviate from the terms of this agreement.”
A joint statement released on Tuesday by Iran and the three European members of the negotiations said the final deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, “will produce the comprehensive lifting of all U.N. Security Council sanctions as well as multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program, including steps on access in areas of trade, technology, finance, and energy.”
The final deal comprises a main text and five technical annexes on nuclear, sanctions, civil nuclear energy cooperation, a joint commission, and implementation. The main text and annexes are scheduled to be released later today and in the next few days will be submitted to the Security Council for endorsement, according to the European-Iranian statement.