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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) MenendezSchumer says Senate will vote on repealing 2002 war authorization The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week Sanders drops bid to block Biden's Israel arms sale 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 KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission  Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls 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 SchumerSenate panel unanimously advances key Biden cyber nominees Overnight Energy: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process Wednesday | Bipartisan bill would ban 'forever chemicals' in cosmetics | Biden admin eyes step toward Trump-era proposal for uranium reserve GOP senator: I want to make Biden a 'one-half-term president' MORE (D-N.Y.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOcasio-Cortez, Gillibrand and Moulton call for more high-speed rail funding in infrastructure package Cosmetic chemicals need a makeover Overnight Defense: Austin and Milley talk budget, Afghanistan, sexual assault and more at wide-ranging Senate hearing MORE (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDemings raises million after announcing Senate bid against Rubio Russia threatens to leave International Space Station program over US sanctions Nikki Fried, only statewide elected Democrat in Florida, launches challenge to DeSantis MORE (D-Fla.), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyMcConnell seeks to divide and conquer Democrats Senate filibuster fight throws Democrats' wish list into limbo Parliamentarian changes Senate calculus for Biden agenda MORE Jr. (D-Pa.) and, perhaps, the two California Democrats — Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerBottom line Trump 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 MORE and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinYouth climate activists march outside California homes of Pelosi and Feinstein Cosmetic chemicals need a makeover Progressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema 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 ManchinJoe ManchinSen. Manchin paves way for a telehealth revolution Manchin meets with Texas lawmakers on voting rights Schumer tees up sweeping election bill for vote next week 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 fails to break GOP 'fever' Nevada governor signs law making state first presidential primary Infighting grips Nevada Democrats ahead of midterms 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 Clinton backs Shontel Brown in Ohio congressional race Hillary Clinton: Casting doubt on 2020 election is 'doing Putin's work' Progressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC 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.