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Dick Morris: Midterms killed Iran deal

Dick Morris: Midterms killed Iran deal

The first fruit of the Republican victory in the midterm elections is the failure of President Obama’s efforts to give away everything to Iran in the nuclear negotiations. If Democrats had kept their Senate majority on Nov. 4, we would all be wincing as Obama triumphantly announced a “peace” deal with Iran that would have all but invited the terrorist regime to acquire nuclear weapons.

It is only because of the certainty that a Republican Congress would pass legislation condemning and possibly blocking the nonproliferation deal that his efforts at appeasement fell short. Neither the U.S. nor Britain, France nor Germany, not even the European Union (the negotiating partners) wanted to sign a deal that the U.S. Congress would condemn as a giveaway.

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Behind this victory is the hand of Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate to vote next week on blocking Trump's UAE arms sale Judge whose son was killed by gunman: 'Federal judiciary is under attack' Emergency housing assistance for older adults needed now MORE (D-N.J.). While I have condemned him from this space in previous columns, it is time his singular accomplishments in fighting the Iranian nuclear project be recognized. Along with Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkSenate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Senate makes SCOTUS nominee Barrett a proxy for divisive 2020 Senate Republicans scramble to put Trump at arm's length MORE (R-Ill.), he has achieved a broad bipartisan consensus that the Iranian nuclear program must be dismantled and destroyed.

With Menendez’s backing, it might even be possible to override an Obama veto of sanctions legislation once the new Congress meets. Sens. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms Trump supporters could hand Senate control to Democrats MORE (D-N.Y.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire Democratic senators urge Facebook to take action on anti-Muslim bigotry Social media responds to Harris making history: 'I feel like our ancestors are rejoicing' MORE (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Fearing defeat, Trump claims 'illegal' ballots The Hill's Morning Report - Biden inches closer to victory Senate Democrats want to avoid Kavanaugh 2.0 MORE (D-Fla.), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyScranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Grassley tests positive for coronavirus Casey says he isn't thinking about Pennsylvania gubernatorial bid in 2022 MORE Jr. (D-Pa.) and, perhaps, the two California Democrats — Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerBiden plays it cool as Trump refuses to concede The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Harris launch Trump offensive in first joint appearance Bottom line MORE and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein pushes for California secretary of state to replace Harris in Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Dem leaders back smaller COVID-19 relief bill as pandemic escalates Criminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot MORE — will be under heavy constituent pressure to back a sanctions bill. Add in what remains of the conservative Democratic bloc in the Senate, like Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSmall businesses don't need another stimulus — they need customers Congress faces late-year logjam Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms MORE (D-W.Va.), and you begin to approach the necessary 67 votes.

The key point as the new year dawns is that it is not enough to let the current situation freeze. The sanctions relief, granted in anticipation of a final deal one year ago, must be rolled back to punish Iran for failing to move ahead and for cheating on the sanctions that remain. Iranian oil sales have averaged 1.34 million barrels per day, about half of the pre-sanctions level. Without progress in the negotiations, it is imperative that Iran be denied the almost $40 billion it stands to reap from even its current level of oil output and sales.

Iran retains and operates all of its 10,000 nuclear centrifuges and refuses to dismantle any. The most it will offer is to operate them more slowly and to hold down enrichment to below-bomb levels. With a stockpile of 3 percent to 5 percent enriched uranium, to say nothing of 20 percent enrichment, a bomb is just a short time away whenever the ayatollah flips the switch.

Iran also refuses to stop construction of its heavy water reactor at Arak or even to convert it to a light water reactor — steps necessary to stop the development of a plutonium nuclear weapon. Nor has Iran agreed to a long-term deal or to adequate inspections to assure that any arrangement is, in fact, enforced.

Iran would not be required to moderate its pursuit of ballistic missile capability nor to halt research and development on nuclear weaponry. 

As Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told his people last month: “The centrifuges are spinning and will never stop.” His foreign minister echoed his confidence, saying: “I’m confident that any final deal will have a serious and not a token Iranian enrichment program coupled with removal of sanctions.”

Until the Republicans won the midterms, Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidFeinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Whitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee Bottom line MORE (D-Nev.) could be counted upon to kill any Iran sanctions bill and to not allow it to come up for a potentially politically embarrassing vote. Were it to pass, it would put former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary and Chelsea Clinton to host series based on their book 'Gutsy Women' Democrats see spike in turnout among Asian American, Pacific Islander voters Biden officially announces ex-Obama official Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE in a tough spot. If she were to back a congressional sanctions bill, she would split with Obama and legitimize opposition to his diplomacy. But were she to back the president, defying many Democrats, she would ensure that whether  we could trust Iran would be a central issue in the elections. And we know how that would come out. 

Morris, who served as adviser to former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and former President Clinton, is the author of 17 books, including his latest, Power Grab: Obama’s Dangerous Plan for a One Party Nation and Here Come the Black Helicopters. To get all of his and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by email, go to dickmorris.com.