The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved the Iran nuclear deal Monday, raising questions about Congress’ power to block U.S. participation.
Since before the deal was signed, leaders on Capitol Hill have insisted that a multilateral agreement with Iran constitutes a treaty, and therefore requires Congressional approval.
The New York Times reported Monday that during nuclear negotiations in Vienna, Secretary of State John Kerry pressed his counterparts to keep the Security Council from voting to lift sanctions on Iran until Congress had a chance to voice approval.
But Iran, Russia and U.S. allies in Europe insisted that action at the U.N. come first, preventing Congress from having the first word. (RELATED: The 5 Biggest Winners Of Obama’s Big Nuke Deal — Aside From Iran)
As it now stands, Monday marked the start of a 60-day review period during which Congress has the opportunity — albeit one that includes a lengthy August recess of official business — to consider the merits of the deal before accepting or rejecting it. The Security Council’s approval of the deal will go into effect 90 days after the vote.
Supporters of the deal say that there is no credible alternative which will prevent the proliferation of a nuclear deal, an argument which echoes the defenses of the deal made by Obama and his administration.
But critics say that in going behind Congress’ back, President Barack Obama is setting a dangerous precedent. (RELATED: Here’s How Iran’s Neighbors Feel About The Nuke Deal In Five Comics)
Cliff May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, called the move “an unprecedented and historic surrender of American sovereignty” in an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
May went on to speculate that “Obama may be arranging it so the agreement, as adopted by the [Security Council], requests but does not mandate that the US lift its sanctions.” That way, he says, if Congress eventually votes to reject the deal and retain American sanctions against Iran, the U.N. can accuse the U.S. of “violating the spirit” of the internationally-brokered agreement.
Sen. Tom Cotton, one of the most outspoken critics of diplomacy with Iran, said in a statement Monday that the Security Council vote “undermines” Obama’s own approval of legislation guaranteeing Congress a vote on the deal. He also said the agreement “paves the way to nuclear weapons capability for a radical, anti-American, outlaw regime.”
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