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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) MenendezBiden holds off punishing Saudi crown prince, despite US intel Senate confirms Thomas-Greenfield as UN ambassador The Memo: Biden bets big on immigration 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 SchumerLawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food Ron Johnson forces reading of 628-page Senate coronavirus relief bill on floor Senate panel splits along party lines on Becerra MORE (D-N.Y.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandABC names new deputy political director, weekend White House correspondent The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers face Capitol threat as senators line up votes for relief bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate Dems face unity test; Tanden nomination falls MORE (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Divided House on full display Florida Democrats mired in division, debt ahead of 2022 Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives MORE (D-Fla.), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyRepublicans see Becerra as next target in confirmation wars Senate Democrats call on GAO to review child care access barriers for disabled parents, kids Democrats blast Trump team videos: 'False equivalency'  MORE Jr. (D-Pa.) and, perhaps, the two California Democrats — Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerTrump administration halting imports of cotton, tomatoes from Uighur region of China Biden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status Questions and answers about the Electoral College challenges MORE and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDemocrats worry Senate will be graveyard for Biden agenda Pro-Choice Caucus asks Biden to remove abortion fund restrictions from 2022 budget China has already infiltrated America's institutions 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) ManchinSenate Democrats vote to provide 0 unemployment benefits into September Senate GOP gets short-lived win on unemployment fight McConnell makes failed bid to adjourn Senate after hours-long delay 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 ReidBiden turns focus to next priority with infrastructure talks How to pass legislation in the Senate without eliminating the filibuster Who is the Senate parliamentarian and why is she important? 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 ClintonHillicon Valley: China implicated in Microsoft breach | White House adds Big Tech critic | QAnon unfazed after false prediction Jill Biden redefines role of first lady QAnon supporters unfazed after another false prediction 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.