National Security

UN Security Council endorses Iran deal


The United Nations Security Council on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution supporting the nuclear deal struck by the Obama administration, Iran and other world powers.

The 15-0 vote came despite opposition on Capitol Hill, where key lawmakers have criticized the administration for pushing for U.N. action before Congress has a to chance to weigh in. 

But the move sends a strong signal of international support for the agreement, which offers Iran economic relief in exchange for concessions on its nuclear work.

“While this deal does not address many of our profound concerns, if implemented it would make the world safer and more secure,” U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power said during Monday morning’s meeting.

“If Iran seizes that opportunity, if it abides by the commitments that it agreed to in this deal … then it will find the international community and the United States willing to provide a path out of isolation and toward greater engagement,” she added. “We hope Iran’s government will choose that path.”

The plan, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), would set limits on Iran’s ability to enrich uranium, build centrifuges and other actions that could lead to a nuclear bomb. That would extend the so-called “breakout time” for it to obtain a bomb from the current estimate of three months to one year, according to the Obama administration.

The deal would “cut off all pathways” for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, Power said, “while putting in place a rigorous inspection and transparency regime to verify Iran’s compliance.”

In exchange, the U.S. and other countries around the globe would begin to roll back sanctions on Iran’s financial and oil sector, which have had a severe toll on the country’s economy.

Those restrictions would begin to be lifted in 90 days.

“Ninety days from today, when our respective capitals and legislatures have had a time to review the deal’s provisions, the provisions within the JCPOA will take effect,” Power said.

In Washington, that review is expected to be a bitter fight.

Congress has 60 days to weigh in on the accord, and the Obama administration is already facing strong winds in opposition.

Most Republicans are united in opposing the deal, which they say would only empower Iran and assure it time to build a bomb, and the White House will struggle to maintain Democratic support.

On Monday, No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn (Texas) said that the White House’s decision to have the U.N. weigh in before Congress was “an affront to the American people.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — a presidential candidate — said that American security had been “outsourced to the United Nations.”

In recent days, President Obama, Vice President Biden and other top officials have begun an aggressive lobbying push to rally Democrats. Over the weekend, Obama had a rare golf outing with three Democratic House lawmakers.

In addition to concerns that the deal’s inspection regimes are not strong enough, skeptics have worried that it ignores other issues of tension surrounding Iran, including its support for listed terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and its continued imprisonment of Americans.

Over the weekend, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appeared to confirm that those disagreements would persist, when he said that his country’s relationship with the “arrogant” U.S. “won’t change at all.”

Still, Khamenei endorsed the nuclear agreement and reiterated his long-running fatwa declaring nuclear weapons to be forbidden under Islamic law.

“Looking up to the future, my government hopes that the JCPOA and [U.N.] Resolution 2231 will mark a new chapter in the relations between Iran and the council and the JCPOA participants,” Iranian U.N. Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo said on Monday.

“Iran is both in a position and willing to comply fully with its commitment under the JCPOA.”

Obama has insisted that the deal is necessarily limited in scope. It is meant to limit Iran’s nuclear ability alone, he has said, not its other destabilizing actions.

Monday’s U.N. vote “doesn’t change our profound concern about human rights violations committed by the Iran government or the instability Iran fuels beyond its nuclear program,” Power said before the Security Council.

In return, Khoshroo used his remarks on Monday to criticize both the U.S. and Israel — which has emerged as the most vocal global opponent of the agreement. Both countries had contributed to terrorism and instability in the broader Middle East, he said.

“Feckless and reckless acts of the United States in our region for so many years are at the root of so many challenges that we are now facing in our neighborhood,” said Khoshroo.

—Last updated at 11:11 a.m.

Tags John Cornyn Marco Rubio Samantha Power

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