The Obama administration’s State Department has confirmed that the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry on instructions from President Obama is a “political” commitment only.
And commentators quickly pointed out that means a future president “could repudiate it any time, without violating either domestic or international law.”
And they note, so, too, could Iran.
The confirmation of the legal status of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the deal with Iran and the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union, comes from Julie Frifield, an assistant secretary for legislative affairs in the State Department.
Her letter was responding to questions from Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., and said the deal “reflects political commitments” between Iran and the other countries.
It “is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document,” she explained. “The success of the JCPOA will depend not on whether it is legally binding or signed, but rather on the extensive verification measures we have put in place.”
The deal largely has been rejected by the American people. WND reported when it came under fire from 200 or so retired U.S. generals and admirals.
And a recent poll showed nearly half of the American people hate Obama’s moves in the situation.
Pew Research Center for U.S. Politics & Policy found, in a recent poll, only 21 percent actually approve of it.
The level of U.S. approval for the pact has plummeted from mid-July, when 33 percent of Americans said they were on board with it.
The agreement involves relief that benefits Iran to the tune of up to $150 billion, and Americans simply aren’t sold on the idea of a trustworthy Iran.
“The public continues to express little confidence that Iran’s leaders will live up to their side of the nuclear agreement,” Pew found. “Just 2 percent have a great deal of confidence that Iran’s leaders will abide by the agreement, while another 18 percent say they have a fair amount of confidence.”
Another 70 percent said “they are not too confident” Iran will honor the terms of the pact, Pew said.
Iran, in fact, has already moved toward development of a new nuclear reactor. As reported by WND, Russia has signed a pledge to help Tehran construct a second reactor in the Bushehr province. The State Department, meanwhile, said this project is not explicitly prohibited by the terms of the nuclear deal or by existing U.N. Security Council resolutions.
“The Obama administration has taken this position at least in part to avoid rendering the deal unconstitutional. If it were a legally binding international agreement, it would require ratification by the Senate, or at least some form of congressional approval, which it currently does not have and is unlikely to get in the future,” he wrote.
But he noted that “legal scholar Michael Ramsey and Matthew Weybrecht of Lawfare point out” that if there’s nothing binding legally, “a future president could repudiate it any time, without violating either domestic or international law.”
At the Originalism Blog, Ramsey, in fact, noted that the president can make nonbinding political commitments without approval from Congress.
But he found, “The next president is (by definition) not bound by it, either as a matter of international law or as a matter of U.S. constitutional law.”
Thus, he explained, there are other commentators who owe Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., an apology.
They earlier, Ramsey explained, “called Sen. Rubio lawless for declaring his intention to repudiate the JCPOA if elected. That declaration, they wrote, was ‘an unprecedented pledge to inaugurate his term by repudiating the constitutional command to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Not so. As the State Department letter makes clear … the JCPOA – as a nonbinding agreement – is not part of the laws which the president must faithfully execute.”
He also noted “a lot of people owe Sen. Tom Cotton an apology. Last spring he famously wrote an ‘open letter’ to Iran’s leadership (actually a post on his website) saying that the then-pending deal with Iran could be repudiated by the next president if not approved by Congress. For this he was widely criticized, both substantively and procedurally. But it’s clear now that he was simply stating a basic proposition of U.S. law that the State Department does not contest.”
Somin pointed out what is equally obvious then.
“If the deal is not legally binding on the United States, it also does not bind Iran either. If the Iranians cheat or renege on the agreement, the administration cannot claim that they violated international law. The Iranian regime, of course, is unlikely to be much influenced by considerations of legal propriety. But such considerations do matter to elite and public opinion in Europe, whose support is necessary for any effective ‘snapback’ of sanctions in the event of Iranian violations.”
He noted European governments would be unlikely to give up business deals with Iran based on a violation of an agreement “that isn’t even legally binding.”
Critics pointed out that the end result very well could be a loss of the sanctions against Iran and a restoration of billions of dollars to the rogue nation with virtually no significant return to the West.