We took a brief look at the comments made by Senator Robert Menendez at the Senate Foreign Relations Commitee hearing earlier this week here. The witnesses before the committee were Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Under Secretary David Cohen.
The committee hearing addressed the issued related to our negotiations with Iran over its illicit nuclear program. C-SPAN has posted the nearly three-hour hearing in its entirety here. I’m going to have to watch it.
In the meantime, Jeff Dunetz takes a slightly more expansive look at Menendez’s exchange with Blinken and posts this illuminating exchange:
Menendez: So let me ask you this, isn’t it true that even the deal that you are striving towards –is not to eliminate any Iranian breakout capability, but to constrain the time in which you’ll get the notice of such breakout capability. Is that a fair statement, yes or no?
Blinken: Yes, it is.
Menendez: Okay, so we’re not eliminating Iran’s ability to break out. We’re just getting alarm bells, and the question is how long are we going to get those alarm bells for? Now, isn’t it also true that the administration cannot lift sanctions, that it can only waive them under the present law, yes or no?
Blinken: That’s largely correct.
Menendez: So now the Iranians are going to make a deal in which this president may waive sanctions but the next president of the United States, whoever that may be, may decide you know what, this is not in our interests because it’s only going to give us a limited period of time and they’re going to go ahead and say sorry we’re not waiving the sanctions anymore. In that the Iranians are willing to make the hard decisions that they agreed to make that they have been unwilling to make for 18 months because I heard this movie’s been played before. Right? 20 years.
Last June we heard from the president just give me time. That was seven months ago. Right? Now we’re reliving it again. And so the bottom line is, that we are going to do all of this and ultimately be in a position in which if they don’t make a deal, we’re exactly where we are at, but with no immediate consequences to them.
Their breakout time is shorter than the time it will take to create new sanctions. And now you’re telling me…, based upon your responses, that you don’t want us to even — the Iranians have made it very clear that their parliament has to vote on this issue. Why is it possible that Tehran will treat its parliament better than the administration in the greatest democracy is willing to its congress? It’s — it just boggles my imagination. So, Mr. Chairman, I’ll look forward to looking at your legislation, and I have suggested to you in our previous conversations some ways in which I think it might be made even stronger.
Here is the video (including the exchange above at around 4:45).
The Obama administration intends to present the American people with a final agreement blessing and funding Iran’s nuclear program. Obama intends to shut Congress out from ratification of the agreement. The agreement will be presented to the American people as a fait accompli. It will, moreover, be a catastrophic agreement. Blinken’s testimony is deserving of the closest scrutiny as we arrive at the threshold.