‘Republicans - lock, stock and barrel of Israeli lobby’
US Republican lawmakers are criticizing top officials from the Obama administration on Iran's nuclear deal. Secretary of State John Kerry's been defending the agreement as the 'only viable option' to a peaceful resolution. But even though the pact took more than two weeks of talks in Vienna to finalize, many in Congress remain unconvinced. Now Obama has to wait to see whether Congress will look to derail the agreement. But lawmakers itching to kill the deal are set to be disappointed as the President says he will use his veto if they do. Congress would then need a two-thirds majority of no-votes to override that veto.
RT: Can the Obama administration win over the dissenting voices in Congress?
Gareth Porter: It’s very clear the Obama administration is never going to win over the Republican majority in Congress to the point of view that backs this deal with Iran. The Republicans have become lock, stock and barrel, a part of the lobby that supports the Israeli interests in this issue and this has become a Republican issue for the next period of time including the next Presidential election, they are clearly going to try to exploit this as best as they can. The question is whether the swing voters on the Democratic side in the Senate can be won over by the Obama administration and their chances are clearly much better. But there are still questions about whether this is going to work for the Obama administration. I think it’s still up in the air as to whether Obama can deliver sufficient numbers of democratic votes - thirteen minimum - to ensure that he can overcome the majority that will vote against this deal. That’s really the issue that we all need to be concerned about.
RT: Will the stand-off between the Administration and the lawmakers actually get to the point when Obama has to use his veto?
GP: Absolutely, he will use his veto and then the question is whether the Senate will have enough votes to overcome that Presidential veto. That’s where the Democratic votes are crucial for the President to be able to override overwrite the veto.
RT: The deal with Iran does not mean that the US will soften its stance on other issues. John Kerry has said that the US will continue to work against Iran in cases “terrorism, contributions to sectarian violence in the Middle East”. So how is this approach going to work in practice? Isn't there a danger that it could undermine the much-sought after nuclear deal?
GP: What’s interesting to me is precisely the fact that the Obama administration is in agreement with its critics on the right about the fact that Iran wants to get nuclear weapons. The only difference between the two sides is that the Obama administration says this deal will prevent them from getting nuclear weapons. The Republicans and the Israeli lobby in Washington are saying “No, it won’t do it”. My question really is whether the Obama administration is wise to basically take the position that the only alternative to this agreement is war with Iran because Iran is so completely dedicated to the idea of getting nuclear weapons. The reality that I have documented in my book published last year is that the Iranians have not wanted to get nuclear weapons. Their nuclear program was not aimed at that from the beginning. I think it’s a tragedy that the Obama administration is essentially taking on the main argument of the people who are against this deal. I’m not sure it’s going to be to their advantage.
‘Netanyahu did his best to fan flames of Iranophobia’
Former adviser to Iran's nuclear negotiating team Kaveh Afrasiabi suggests that concerning Iran’s nuclear deal Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to supplant his personal views on the national interests of Israel and dictate terms to the US.
RT: Republicans told John Kerry he had been 'fleeced' and 'bamboozled' by Iran. Is there any credibility in saying that?
Kaveh Afrasiabi: Absolutely not and I find this kind of personal insult on Mr. Kerry is quite insulting and frustrating because he has due done diligence in bringing about a balanced and equitable deal that reflects the mutual interest of all sides in these negotiations and to be subjected to this kind of very vicious personal attack is completely uncalled for and unnecessary. Unfortunately the rejection camp in the US Congress appears to be gaining momentum thanks in part to the delayed lobbying campaign by the White House and hopefully in the near future for the next month and a half or so before the Congress puts its approval or disapproval to the final agreement, the moment will shift in favor of this nuclear agreement that already has the binding approval of the UN Security Council and that would be very embarrassing for the US government to turn its back on it.
RT: Whatever the outcome of the vote in Congress, would this deal survive if a Republican President takes over from Obama?
KA: Unfortunately it’s not just the Republicans; we might even see a recalcitrant Democratic President that would be pressured by the Congress and so forth, the very powerful pro-Israel lobby group for example, to renege this deal or to dilly-dally on its implementation. A lot of this final deal hinges on the twin aspect of the Presidential waiver of some of the sanctions as well as the Congress modifying itself on the several Iran sanction laws. If the US Congress ends up having very serious and strong opposition to this even though short of scuttling it in light of the threat of Presidential veto and absence of the two thirds majority that the Republicans need in order to override it. With the strong Congressional opposition and so forth there is the danger that the next President may not be faithfully committed to this which in turn raises the risk for the future prospect of the final agreement.
RT: Should we expect any words from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in the run-up to the vote by Congress?
KA: Mr. Netanyahu has done his best together with his envoys in Washington to fan the flames of rampant Iranophobia…and we should expect him and his allies to continue to do so in the coming weeks. But there are some voices of opposition even inside Israel who point out to the benefits to Israel of this very significant nuclear deal and the concessions that Iran has made with respect to transparency, self-limitation on enrichment program and so on. That serves Israel’s own concerns and interests, not to mention US’s interests and the benefits that come to the US in the form of non-proliferation, opportunities for the US business communities and so forth. Mr. Netanyahu is trying to supplant his narrow-minded personal views for the national interests of Israel and to dictate terms on the Americans which have raised some eyebrows even inside the US Congress.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.