After years of intricate political diplomacy, six countries, Germany, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and the U.S., collectively known as P5+1, entered into an agreement with Iran in November of 2013 (and formally adopted in October of 2015) to halt Iran’s march towards nuclear proliferation in the hopes of stabilizing tensions in the Middle East. Iran, for its side of the bargain, received the lifting of certain economic sanctions that had previously been imposed. This agreement, however imperfect both at its time of inception and to date, was seen as a compromise, as well as a marked step forward in a region where news headlines daily reflected an area ripe for war.
This agreement did not come without a cost. Our strongest ally in this region, Israel, objected strenuously to any deal with Iran. First, because such a deal would, by its very nature, establish a precedence that Iran must now be recognized as a player in the Middle East; that the release of the sanctions would allow Iran to refocus its efforts on constructing more missiles for offensive purposes and provide further backing of the Hezbollah; and allow a larger presence in the Golan Heights, an area deeply divided, both geographically and politically.
However difficult and diplomatically uncomfortable, the P5+1 felt the stronger pull of potential peace in a region where such endeavors are few and far between and which are regularly breached for a variety of reasons.
Today, with Iran’s verifiable compliance, tensions have ebbed between our ally and its neighbor, but that is not to say that Israel has remained silent or is not vigilant. Rather, Israel’s roles today are comprised of increased intelligence gathering, a strengthening of its defenses, and warnings of any potential violations to the Iranian agreement.
Given our President’s blatant lack of understanding of diplomatic endeavors and international relations, he has stated that he will not “re-certify” the Iranian agreement which is a condition of its existence and demanded every 90 days. Rather, he has lobbed it to our Congress to revise or re-create a deal with more (as he says) “equitable provisions.” Congress now is faced with three choices:
(a) Impose additional economic sanctions on Iran, even though they are in compliance with the existing agreement. This would most certainly result in Iran’s immediate withdrawal from the agreement;
(b) Push for new negotiations which would result in the loss of credibility with other nations with which we have signed agreements (when is a deal a deal?); or
(c) Do nothing and the deal stands.
Even though (c) seems to be the correct answer here, I suggest that a better answer might be for Congress to push back and declare their independence from the Trump administration by standing by an agreement that was made with great difficulty and serves only to provide peace in a highly unstable environment.
And IF Congress could manage to agree and move forward in such an exemplary fashion, it might also consider going one rung higher and inform our President that the criteria for revisiting existing agreements should be for compelling reasons, and not just because it was conceived or executed under the previous administration.
Or, as an alternative, my fellow Congressmen and women, there’s always the 25th Amendment. At this point, it would hardly be a stretch …. more like a slam-dunk, wouldn’t you say?