Reaction to the deal has been fairly predictable:
1. The Canadian government is deeply skeptical, and Canadian sanctions will remain in place.
2. The Persian Gulf States have also been skeptical, particularly the Saudis. Saudi press statements offered half-hearted support:
“King Salman told Mr. Obama that he “hopes reaching a final and binding agreement would lead to improving security and stability in the region and the world,” the Saudi state news agency said.”
“Jamal Khashoggi, a veteran Saudi journalist and political commentator, said the Saudis would be undeterred by any potential Western softening toward Tehran. The Kingdom “is still now going to handle Iran’s expansionism. It’s not going to leave that in the hands of the Americans.”
3. In Israel Prime Minister Netenyahu was bluntly critical, but interestingly, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, formerly the head of military intelligence, had a more nuanced view:
“If we aspire to an ideal world and dream of having all of Israel’s justified demands fulfilled, then of course the agreement does not deliver. It grants Iran legitimacy as a nuclear threshold state and potential to eventually achieve nuclearization. It leaves Iran more or less one year away from a nuclear weapon, and Israel will clearly not like all of this.
“But there’s another way to look at it that examines the current situation and the alternatives. In this other view, considering that Iran now has 19,000 centrifuges, the agreement provides quite a good package. One has to think what might have happened if, as aspired to by Netanyahu and Steinitz, negotiations had collapsed. Had that happened, Iran could have decided on a breakout, ignored the international community, refused to respond to questions about its arsenal, continued to quickly enrich and put together a bomb before anyone could have had time to react. And therefore, with this in mind, it’s not a bad agreement.”
4. According to the Republicans: “Obama’s dangerous deal with Iran rewards an enemy, undermines our allies and threatens our safety.” And they are demanding congress be allowed to review it.
The question now is what can they do to derail it? They have some options:
“Members of Congress can hold hearings, calling witnesses to testify about the dangers of the agreement and in this way “embarrass the administration,” he said. Witnesses could testify about the dangers of an agreement, for example, and about flaws in the administration strategy.
Members of Congress could refuse to appropriate funds necessary for an agreement with Iran to go into effect. This would delay – and perhaps derail – the agreement. There are other options, too.
On 14 April members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are planning to vote on Senator Bob Corker’s bipartisan Iran nuclear agreement review act, as it’s known. This would give members of Congress 60 days after a nuclear deal is reached to decide if they want to waive sanctions against Iran.
…. members of Congress could decide to up the ante and impose “pretty draconian new sanctions”, NYU School of Law’s Zachary Goldman said. It would be hard, since they’d need the support of two-thirds of both the US Senate and the US House of Representatives to over-ride a presidential veto. Both houses are Republican-controlled but they would need Democrat votes.”
Considering there are still important negotiations required before the deal is completely done, this has the potential to undermine or at least complicate the deal.
Just as worrying, Republican pressure will force Obama to go top great lengths to justify the deal to congress. As he does so, he will have to characterize the deal as an American win and Iranian loss. This will make it harder for Rouhani to sell the deal in Tehran. In fact, the Iranian press is already claiming that Obama is lying about the nature of the deal: