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August 13, 2015 6:04 pm

Expert on Iran Deal: Congress Has Demanded Changes to Hundreds of Treaties Before

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

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It's not without precedent that Congress could send the nuclear deal back to negotiators under certain revisions.

It’s not without precedent that Congress could send the nuclear deal back to negotiators under certain revisions.

That Congress could challenge the Obama administration and demand the U.S. renegotiate certain provisions in the Iran nuclear deal is not without precedent, an op-ed by an Arizona State University law professor argued in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

Prof. Orde Kittrie challenged Secretary of State John Kerry’s assertion that a congressional vote against the deal is inconsistent with the “traditional relationship” between legislature and the executive branch, which is ready to see the Iran deal adopted and implemented.

Congress has flatly rejected international treaties struck by the executive branch at least 130 times in U.S. history, 22 treaties were voted down, and 108 other treaties were blocked because the Senate refused to vote on them. Additionally, hundreds of treaties were modified upon the Senate’s demands.

For example, a treaty between the Obama administration and the United Arab Emirates over the Gulf country’s nuclear energy program was sent back for revisions after some in Congress said the agreement did not have sufficient provisions to prevent the U.A.E. from traveling down the same path as Iran toward fuel reprocessing and suspicious enrichment activities.

Kittrie wrote that based on the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which President Obama signed in May, Congress can pass a resolution of disapproval or separate legislation that could outline what changes Congress deems necessary to accept the deal.

Officials in the Obama administration meanwhile have said that the president could use executive authority to stop “many U.S. sanctions on Iran” if Congress moves to thwart the deal in its current iteration, reported Politico.


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  • Dr. Bob Solomon

    How simplistic to say we have had many examples. Yes, we defeated the League of Nations, ruining any chances to give that organization a fighting chance to be useful. Yes, the UAE treaty was amended, but UAE is not Iran, for ithad no ongoing program so close to success, had no sanctions so crippling, and had no agreement half so tough on supervision as the Iran one. And the Constitution says the President, not Congress, makes foreign policy, so most of the congressional changes were far less dangerous than defeat of the Iran treaty would be. Today’s NYTimes notes that defeat would destroy the short-lived group of 6 working to halt Iran’s program, and would make continued or re-instituted sanctions impossible and American world leadership, in particular, in the ME impossible.
    Sometimes articles, even in the WSJ seem over-simplified, almost a waste of ink and paper.

    • Dr Solomon must know that Obama, and as a result, the U.S. no longer has any leadership role in the ME. After failing to enforce the Syrian “red line crossing” no one takes us seriously as a world leader. As to the group of 6, they’ve long since begun planning how to make use of the Iran signing bonus to their own economic advantages and are not thinking about what’s in America’s or Israel’s best interest since none of them is being threatened by Iran or its proxies.

    • American Jew

      Dr. Bob Solomon, I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings for your thesis, but CONGRESS is a co-equal branch of government responsible in the formation of Foreign Policy.

      Alan Dershowitz wrote about the constitutional system of checks and balances and the separation of powers “Under the Constitution, the executive and legislative branches share responsibility for making and implementing important foreign-policy decisions.”

      For example, Ronald Regan didn’t get to legally fund the Nicaraguan Contras–apparently Congress had some say so in the matter. If you firmly believe only the Executive branch crafts US foreign policy, then you are saying that Reagan’s right to fund the Contras was illegally impeded by the US Congress. Most would hold that your interpretation of the Constitution is incorrect.

      We do not live in a one-man dictatorship. The democratically elected representatives of the American people have every right to reject this deal. You are free to go visit North Korea if you chose to live under that sort of one person rule political system.

  • Franklin Delano Paskutnik

    At last someone has had the courage to speak out to challenge Kerry (and his boss Obama).Well done Prof.Kittrie and the Wall Street Journal!The whole philosophy of a democracy like the US is that the elected leaders of the people have the power to annul,adjust or amend any decision taken by the political leader of the country to prevent him from behaving like a dictator.Obama is behaving like a dictator by ALREADY stating that he will brook no rejection and will veto any negative vote by Congress re his rotten Iran deal – even BEFORE such a vote has taken place!

  • Joseph Feld

    Perhaps the most famous example is President Woodrow Wilson’s devoted efforts to set up the League of Nations, only to have Congress reject the treaty, leaving the USA out of the League of Nations.

  • Thank you, Professor Kittrie, for telling us the truth that Mr Kerry did not.