News Analysis: U.S. Congress may have little say on Iran nuke deal
2015-07-28 10:25:00

WASHINGTON, July 27-- U.S. lawmakers are furious that President Barack Obama circumvented Congress to reach a nuclear deal with Iran, but even if Congress votes down the deal, it will be extremely difficult to repeal it, experts said.

Earlier this month, Obama made an unprecedented nuclear deal with Iran, circumventing Congress and going to the United Nations Security Council, which backed the deal last Monday, infuriating U. S. lawmakers on both sides of the isle.

U.S. lawmakerseven a few in Obama's own Democratic party - were livid that the U.S. president gave the UN the first say on the deal, before handing it over to Congress to perform its 60 day review of the agreement. Top House Foreign Affairs Committee's Democrat Representative Eliot Engel said he was "disappointed", in a joint statement with the committee's Republican Chairman Ed Royce, that the UN Security Council voted before U.S. Congress was able to "fully review and act on this agreement."

Several Republican presidential candidates said they would roll back the deal if they won the 2016 elections. Three candidates, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Senator Marco Rubio from Florida all vowed to repeal the deal if elected.

But while the deal has enraged Republicans, as many believe it is a pathway for Iran to obtain a nuclear bomb, it will be very difficult to roll it back, even if a Republican candidate clinches the White House in the 2016 elections, said experts.

"It will be very difficult to get the world community to re- impose economic sanctions on Iran," Brookings Institution's senior fellow Darrell West said of the harsh economic sanctions that many analysts believe played a major role in getting Iran to come to the negotiation table in the first place.

Indeed, it was no easy task for Washington to get Western countries to agree to sanctions that would prevent Iran from selling oil to Europe, and convincing them to do so again would be an uphill climbif they could be convinced at all.

Moreover, Russia and China clearly want to resume trade with Iran, as do many countries in Europe, and U.S. sanctions without international coordination would be virtually meaningless in terms of the impact on Iranian trade, West told Xinhua.

If the UN lifts the trade embargo that has wrecked Iran's economy, the economic sanctions are effectively dead because much of Iran's trade is with Europe and Russia, not the U.S. That destroys whatever leverage the U.S. had over Iran, other than the so-called "snapback" provision if Iran is found not to have allowed inspections. Republicans feel that Obama is forcing their hand and not allowing an independent assessment of the accord, West said.

While U.S. Congress can reject the nuclear deal, and keep sanctions on Iran, Obama still can veto such an action as he promised. It would take two-thirds of Congress to overturn that veto, which experts said is unlikely to achieve.

"It's going to be very hard for the next president to undo it, let alone put those sanctions back in place, which took them ten years to put in place in the first place," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua.

At the first Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Iranian deal last Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was grilled by some Republican members of Congress, with Committee Chairman Bob Corker telling Kerry "I believe you've been fleeced," contending that the deal would lead to Iran being able to build a nuclear bomb.

For its part, Tehran denies that it aims to build nuclear weapons and says its nuclear program is peaceful, used for medical isotopes and energy. Editor:Nicky