Cardin, the Iran Deal, and the Future of Plan B

by Jim Lobe

As most readers of this blog know, three more Democratic senators came out in support of the JCPOA today—Heidi Heitkamp, Mark Warner, and, most significantly, Cory Booker. That definitely puts the administration within reach of the magic 41 votes that would make it unnecessary for Obama to veto a resolution disapproving the Iran agreement.

That said, my understanding is that AIPAC’s Plan B is still very much in play and, if turned into a companion bill with the disapproval resolution, could still accomplish its goal of sabotaging the nuclear deal. In other words, declaring victory at this point would be very premature.

As I noted last night, Plan B is focused on bringing around nervous Democrats who, after supporting the administration, want to “kiss and make up” with the Israel lobby by showing their devotion to Israel’s security and their continued distrust and hostility toward Iran. What worries me are parts of the statements made by Booker and Warner in explaining their decisions to back the White House.

Toward the conclusion of his lengthy statement, Booker listed various items he said “must” be pursued “moving forward,” including,

Bolstering Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge: The U.S. should provide Israel with access to the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) to help deter Iranian cheating. The Administration should also fast-track the completion of a new 10-year Memorandum of Understanding with Israel to bolster our strong bilateral security partnership and cooperation with even greater levels of foreign military financing (FMF). The President has indicated to Congress that these talks will continue, but I would like to see a conclusion reached well before the implementation of this deal.

Renewing the Iran Sanctions Act: The Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) will expire at the end of next year. If sanctions are to snapback in the event of an Iranian violation, we cannot wait for Congress to pass new Iran sanctions. The Iran Sanctions Act must be renewed so that sanctions are at the ready in the instance of Iranian cheating.

Iran will likely consider the provision of MOPs to Israel—which was part of the draft “Iran Policy Oversight Act of 2015” I posted last night—to be extremely hostile. It will only strengthen Iranian hardliners in any debate over whether Washington is acting in good faith (although it’s worth noting that it’s the executive branch that decides whether or not to transfer specific weapons systems; Congress can only authorize the transfer). And Iran has already indicated that it would consider extending the ISA a violation of the JCPOA. If Congress were to extend it now through any companion legislation, it would have a very negative impact in Tehran, especially as the Majlis begins its own debate on the deal.

In his much shorter statement, Warner didn’t bring up the MOPs or ISA. But, like Booker, he stressed that he was “not satisfied” with the JCPOA “as a final measure and [thus] will support efforts to shore-up [sic] its weaker points,” including “clarifying,” among other things, “that there is no ‘grandfather clause’ to shield foreign firms in the event Iran violates the deal.”

This phrase, basically lifted straight out of the text of the draft Iran Policy Oversight Act of 2015, would amount to renegotiating the terms of the deal.

Now, neither senator said that these demands need to be met either at the same time as or immediately after Congress votes on the disapproval resolution. But my understanding is that that’s what AIPAC and its allies are pushing for.

I also understand that the still-uncommitted ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, is deeply involved in discussions over any possible companion legislation. He was also the pivotal figure in striking the compromise with Committee Chairman Bob Corker that resulted in the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which is the law that set up next week’s debate and vote on the disapproval resolution. His involvement is in some ways reassuring: the terms that he ultimately persuaded Corker to agree to were those that the White House, which had initially opposed the bill, decided it could live with. In fact, the final bill, while endorsed by AIPAC and the Republican leadership, infuriated hard-line neoconservatives who ultimately decided it was a “trap.”

But, at this point, it’s not clear how much Cardin is coordinating with the White House or how deeply involved in this very behind-the-scenes process the White House is. And, if indeed some form of the Iran Policy Oversight Act does make its appearance next week alongside the disapproval resolution, will it include the kind of “poison pills” that are included in Booker’s and Warner’s statements and that could yet derail the entire agreement with Iran?

I just don’t know, but Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association, which has played a leading role in campaigning for the JCPOA, offered a very timely tweet earlier this evening: “@SenatorCardin: Merits of #IranDeal are clear. Time to support it; take care not to sppt proposals that could undermine its implementation.”

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. The three Senators certainly proved once again they care about Israel more than the national interests of this country, the United States, that gave them everything!

  2. In other words, Cardin, Warner etc. — and Dennis Ross and Nicholas Burns — are setting the stage via Plan B to bomb the hell out Iran in just the way Bomber Harris and the US Air Force were financed by Henry Morgenthau Jr to bomb the hell out of Germany.

    Who will the US Congress and Senators and Jewish lobbyist hire to rape Iranian women the way German women were raped by Stalin’s Bolshevik troops?

  3. In all the debates and arguments on Iran nuclear deal it is assumed that Iran has lost a war against the US and she is obliged to accept any terms and conditions put down by the victor!! , “The victor’s” political wing that determines the terms and conditions of the surrender is Israel, represented by AIPAC and other Israeli lobbies, rich Jewish individuals corporations who provide US politicians with election campaign funds and Jewish controlled media that can make or break a “statue of liberty and American dream” out of any ambitious US politician.
    This may be true from American side, but certainly untrue in bare actual facts , in point of view of world public opinions, in European points of views, and specially in Iranian point of view. There are other points of views much different from that of US-AIPAC-ISRAEL points of view.
    Iran has not submitted to any defeat, physically or mentally. There are people in Iran-in positions of power and ordinary Iranians- who are totally against a deal that prevents Iran from having nuclear weapons for defensive purposes, specially in the light of shameless threats from Israel to nuke Iran. Nowadays even those Iranians against nuclear weapons have come to the conclusion that it would be irresponsible to deprive Iran from effective strategic weapons for CONTAINMENT . Irans armed forces are totally against the deal and are keeping quiet painfully on orders from the Supreme Leader. Iranian public, though peaceful and inclined to amiable relations with the world and even the US, are suffering from hurt feelings and pride by the behaviour of some American politician and specially by Israeli rude ungrateful behaviour towards Iranians. Iran has always been a safe heaven for Jews from ancient times up to date and Iranians have never had any major conflict with the Jews despite their occasional freakish behaviour,either individually or collectively.
    Let’s assume what happens if the deal falls through? In the hawkish Iranians’ point of view that calls for a big celeberation. Iran will start enrichment immediately and in full speed and will produce as many nuclear weapons as possible in the shortest possible time. This again is for defensive purposes only and not for any offensive intentions, even against Israel. Iran is fully aware of the consequences of starting an offensive nuclear war and will never commit such a horrendous criminal act , even against Israel with its open threats and offensive behaviour against Iran. In today’s world only two countries are capable of such a crime against humanity- the US and Israel. No other country , even China or Russia,with all their might, would begin a nuclear war.
    In the event of breakdown of the deal and the Iranian resumption of enrichment the US and Israel would react offensively. No doubt that will cause vast damages to Iran, economically, militarily, socially and in terms of human lives. BUT, would it succeed to completely destroy Iran’s capabilities for nuclear enrichment and production of nuclear weapons ? Would it make Iran surrender to the US and Israel ? Would it cause a regime change in Iran, which seems to be the excuse for aggression against Iran, would the US and Israel come out as undamaged happy victors ? The Answer to all four questions is a definite and undoubted NO !! Then what would it achieve ?? What did the US and allies achieve in invading Iraq and Afghanistan, despite regime change in these countries?? OVER A DECADE OF MISERY FOR MILLIONS OF IRAQIS AND AFGHANS AND HISTORICAL CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY AND LOSS OF POPULARITY AND CREDIBILITY. But Iran would not be an easy target as Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Is that what those against Iran nuclear deal want ??
    American politicians are being played in the hands of Netanyahu and his freaky foolish extremist zionist comrades, who don’t even know what is good for their own existence let alone knowing what is good for America, which they don’t care anyway!

  4. If anybody thinks the current refugee crisis is fun, just wait until the US of Israel invades Iran, which is the only way to prevent the development of nuclear weapons if Iran believes it needs them.

  5. At what point do average Americans realize that a foreign agent, APAIC is pulling the strings on so many of it’s politicians. It’s a simple question – who do you represent. This blatant corruption must end if Americans want to maintain any international credibility

Comments are closed.