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November 14, 2014 4:35 pm

Republicans Push Against Compromised Iran Deal as Doubts Grow Over November 24 Deadline

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avatar by Ben Cohen

US Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Geneva, November 2013. Photo: Wikicommons.

Fresh from their decisive victory in the 2014 midterm elections, Republican legislators have begun an offensive against the Obama Administration’s drive to achieve a deal with Iran over its nuclear program by November 24 – the deadline for a final agreement.

Republican Senators tried to push through a bill yesterday that would impose tough new sanctions on Iran in the event that a satisfactory deal is not concluded. Reuters reported that U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Bob Corker asked for unanimous consent to allow a vote, but Democratic Senator Chris Murphy objected. “It would send a message that Congress does not stand with the president as the negotiations continue,” Murphy said.

The proposed “Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act of 2014” would re-impose sanctions on Iran waived during the negotiating process if there is no deal by the deadline.

It would also give Congress 15 days after an agreement is reached to review the pact and let legislators cut off funding to implement the pact if it passed a resolution of disapproval or the plan was not submitted for lawmakers’ approval.

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And it would reinstate any sanctions if Iran failed to comply with terms of an agreement.

As The Hill reported, Senator Graham said it would be “insane” for the United States to allow Iran to maintain nuclear processing capabilities as part of the deal.

“This is not the time to let President Obama go it alone,” Graham said. “The stakes are too high.”

As the November 24 deadline approaches, growing numbers of influential voices are hinting that a deal is looking less and less likely. “I hope that we will be able to achieve an agreement, but there are still key questions to resolve,” French Prime Minister Laurent Fabius said today. “I can’t make any predictions at this time. I think it will only be on the day of the 24th that we’ll be able to make an assessment.”

Meanwhile, Iran is starting to behave as though a deal will not be struck. Iranian President Chief of Staff Mohammad Nahavandian asserted yesterday that “The atmosphere to portray a dark image of Iran is now over, and the blame for anything other than a nuclear deal will lie with the West’s excessive demands.”

An editorial in this week’s edition of The Economist, however, predicted a favorable outcome for President Obama. “The flurry of activity over the past few days suggests at least the possibility, if not the probability, of an historic breakthrough,” the paper said, highlighting the significance of the November 11 announcement “by Russia and Iran of a deal to build four new reactors at Bushehr, an existing Russian-built power station, and four at another site.” This, the paper said, “hints at how each side could benefit. Iran retains an ambitious civilian nuclear program; Russia gets influence and money; the West gets guarantees that Iran cannot get close to building an atomic bomb without great risk.”

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