While on January 12, Obama hailed the deal which implemented the nuclear agreement made between Iran and six world powers last November as a great diplomatic breakthrough, which "marks the first time in a decade" that Iran agreed to "halt progress in its nuclear program" and even "roll back" some it, President Rohani described it last Sunday as representing the "surrender" of the Western powers to Iran’s demands.
A bill, proposed by fellow Democrat Bob Menendez and Republican Mark Kirk to threaten harder sanctions on Iran if no final agreement to dismantle the nuclear enrichment program is reached in the next six months, has the votes to pass in the US Senate with 43 Republicans and 16 Democrats cosponsoring it. However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, has blocked the legislation from coming to a vote at the White House‘s request. The White house is further threatening to veto the bill if passed.
The bill needs 67 supporters to override a veto. While only two Republicans do not support the bill, many of the senators from the Democratic Party who have benefitted greatly from US Jewish votes and donations are against it, including many Jewish senators.
Ten committee chairmen in the Democratic-led Senate have pushed back against the new legislation. Sadly, but predictably, among committee chairs opposed to advancing the bill now are four leading Jewish senators who supposedly claim to be pro-Israel. They are Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee; Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee; Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Environment Committee; and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the chairman of the Energy Committee.
It seems that Jewish Democrats will choose President Obama’s agenda every time over Israel’s survival and are even willing in the process to throw Israel under the bus and amplify anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic stereotypes.
On Tuesday, January 14, California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s suggested in a speech she delivered on the Senate floor that the bipartisan Menendez-Kirk bill would "let Israel determine when and where the United States goes to war."
While AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee are fully and actively supporting the bill, Rabbi Jack Moline, the National Jewish Democratic Committee’s executive director, was willing to be used as an attack dog by the White House to smear his fellow Jews, accusing AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee of "strong-arm tactics, essentially threatening people that if they don’t vote a particular way, that somehow that makes them anti-Israel or means the abandonment of the Jewish community."
Luckily, New York Democratic Senator Schumer has chosen this time to defy Obama and supports the bill. As the third ranking Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer should try to convince Senator Reid to allow the vote and also convince his fellow Jews and other Democrats to override a presidential veto.
'Surrender of the big powers'
In lobbying against the legislation, the White House in recent days warned that any further sanctions would "anger" and "break-faith" with Iran and blow up the talks and would undermine the so-called moderate Iranian leaders and lead us to war.
But in reality the so-called moderate Iranian leader whose victory in the summer elections was argued by the administration as a sign that Iran was changing for the better, did not have a problem with "breaking faith" with the US. Two days after the final agreement was signed President Hassan Rohani asked a crowd in Iran, "Do you know what the Geneva Agreement means? It means the surrender of the big powers before the great Iranian nation." He further stated that "the Geneva Agreement means the wall of sanctions has broken."
Moreover, Rohani's foreign minister, Mohammad Javid Zarif, another supposed moderate, who negotiated with Kerry in Geneva, laid a wreath last Monday at the grave of the Hezbollah terrorist who planned the terrorist attack on the US Marines barracks in Beirut in 1983 which killed 241 American troops.
For the last two months, between the initial November agreement and the second deal regarding its implementation, the Iranians have been very busy growing their nuclear program and getting it close to breakout capacity. It has reportedly introduced a new generation of centrifuges to its facilities in Natanz and Fordow, and is vigorously building its Arak heavy water facility.
In addition, it has added 1000 pounds to its stockpile of uranium enriched to 5% and 66 pounds to its 20% stock, and the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors were turned away when they tried to inspect a military base where the Iranians are suspected of experimenting with ways to weaponize nukes.
It seems the Iranians do not fear Obama. Recent Iranians actions and words underscores Iran’s confidence that no matter what they will do and say Obama will not confront them militarily and will work hard to protect them against additional sanctions . They believe that the Geneva Agreement ended their economic isolation and that the process is irreversible. It was reported that Russia and Turkey are in the process of signing deals, worth billions, with Iran selling its oil for goods.
The only way now to pressure Iran, the regional bully, to agree in the upcoming final negotiations to dismantle their nuclear program is if the Iranians fear that the Congress is determined to override Obama’s veto and shut down their economy again with much worse crippling sanctions. The only chance for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear threat is to support and pass the Menendez-Kirk sanctions bill.
Shoula Romano Horing is an attorney. Her blog: www.shoularomanohoring.com