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) MenendezWilliam Barr is right man for the times This week: Trump delivers State of the Union amid wall fight BuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president 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 KirkThe global reality behind 'local' problems Dems vow swift action on gun reform next year This week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill 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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE (D-N.Y.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandSenate Dems introduce bill to prevent Trump from using disaster funds to build wall Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up Sherrod Brown pushes for Medicare buy-in proposal in place of 'Medicare for all' MORE (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William Nelson2020 party politics in Puerto Rico There is no winning without Latinos as part of your coalition Dem 2020 candidates court Puerto Rico as long nomination contest looms MORE (D-Fla.), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyGOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate Biden speaking to Dems on Capitol Hill as 2020 speculation mounts: report GOP senators: Trump should not declare border emergency during State of the Union MORE Jr. (D-Pa.) and, perhaps, the two California Democrats — Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Hispanic civil rights icon endorses Harris for president California AG Becerra included in Bloomberg 50 list MORE and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein says she thinks Biden will run after meeting with him Trump judicial nominee Neomi Rao seeks to clarify past remarks on date rape Bottom Line 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 confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general GOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate Senate poised to confirm Trump’s attorney general pick 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 ReidConstitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency Klobuchar: 'I don't remember' conversation with Reid over alleged staff mistreatment Dems wary of killing off filibuster 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 ClintonFemale Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up McCabe's shocking claims prove the bloodless coup rolls on 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.