The PJ Tatler

Official White House Veto Threat: Congress Shootdown of Iran Deal 'Would Deal Devastating Blow to America's Credibility'

Soon after the House Rules Committee began debating the terms for Wednesday’s floor debate on the Iran nuclear deal, the White House issued its formal veto threat on the resolution offered by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.).

“Enactment of the resolution would greatly undermine our national security interests on multiple fronts,” said the Office of Management and Budget statement. “It would effectively block the international community from peacefully and verifiably preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, allow for the resumption of an unconstrained and unchecked Iranian nuclear program, and lead to the unraveling of the international sanctions regime that was sustained because the Administration sought to diplomatically resolve concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program.”

“Further, enactment of the resolution would deal a devastating blow to America’s credibility as a leader of diplomacy and could ultimately result in the exhaustion of alternatives to military action. If this resolution were enacted, the hard work of sustaining a unified coalition to combat Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region would be much more difficult, as would America’s ability to lead the world on nuclear non-proliferation.”

The White House claimed that the P5+1 agreement “makes the United States and the world safer by removing the gravest threat that Iran could pose to the Middle East, including Israel and our Gulf partners.”

“Before getting phased relief from secondary nuclear-related sanctions, Iran has to complete all of its major nuclear steps which will extend the amount of time it would take Iran to acquire enough fissile material for one weapon from the current two to three months to at least a year,” continued the statement. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has recently reiterated that only immediate sanctions relief is acceptable to Iran, where the parliament has not yet voted on the deal.

“If Iran fails to abide by its JCPOA commitments, all relieved sanctions, both unilateral and multilateral, can snap back into place.” The ayatollah said only fully repealed sanctions, not suspended sanctions, are acceptable. Lawmakers have also spent many weeks arguing that there is no way to “snap back” a sanctions regime that has taken years to put into place.

“The Administration is fully committed to continuing to brief and closely consult the Congress as we work with our international partners to ensure successful implementation of the JCPOA,” claimed the OMB. “As we address our concerns with Iran’s nuclear program through the JCPOA, the Administration remains clear-eyed and shares the deep concerns of the Congress and the American people about Iran’s support for terrorism, its destabilizing role in the region, and its human rights abuses – this is why we will continue to vigorously enforce our sanctions against these activities and work closely with our partners in the region to counter them, using a range of unilateral and multilateral tools.”

“The JCPOA must be assessed by what it achieves on its central goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon – and the Administration urges the Congress to fully consider the stakes for our national security of walking away without the international community. Without the JCPOA in place, Iran would likely resume the advancement of its nuclear program without any of the constraints or transparency required by this deal and without the international unity of our sanctions regime, which would be the worst of all possible worlds, leaving us in a position of weakness, not strength. The President has made it clear that he will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of the JCPOA.”

Asked earlier at today’s briefing if the White House wants Democrats to filibuster the resolution in the Senate and keep it from even receiving an up-or-down vote, press secretary Josh Earnest said, “We certainly would expect that those members of Congress who support the agreement to take the necessary steps in Congress to prevent Congress from undermining the agreement.”

And Earnest also noted that the White House sees payback time against the Senate GOP.

“And you know, look, just anticipating some of the arguments we may hear from the other side here, you’ve heard me, and frankly, both of my predecessors in the Obama administration express frustration at the rules of the United States Senate that were, to his credit, effectively employed by minority leader Mitch McConnell to stymie many aspects of the president’s agenda, including high priorities because of the 60-vote threshold that’s required to do just about anything in the United States Senate,” he said.