• 9 July 2015
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • Congress, Diplomacy, Nuclear file, Sanctions, US-Iran War
Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) questions Secretary of State John Kerry during a hearing about the tentative deal for Iran to halt their nuclear weapons program and end sanctions against Iran on December 10, 2013. John Shinkle/POLITICO

Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) questions Secretary of State John Kerry during a hearing about the tentative deal for Iran to halt their nuclear weapons program and end sanctions against Iran on December 10, 2013. John Shinkle/POLITICO

Washington, DC – Congress must “come to grips” with the reality that failing to seal an Iran nuclear deal would mean war, according to the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

As Secretary of State John Kerry announced that negotiations with Iran would continue past today’s deadline, Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY) put the prospect of diplomatic failure into stark context at a hearing in the House of Representatives.

“The alternative to a deal would surely mean some kind of military strikes on Iran’s nuclear plant,” said Engel, who has given the Obama administration room to negotiate but has also been skeptical of the negotiations and a strong supporter of Israel.

“We have to look at the choices that we have, and the way I see it right now, we have a choice to accept the deal that the administration negotiates, or we don’t,” Engel observed. “And if we don’t, then we need to look at the alternatives.”

His comments suggested that, despite some misgivings about the negotiations, some of the more hawkish Members of Congress acknowledge the imperative of reaching a deal as a matter of war and peace.

“It’s not just accepting the deal or nothing,” Engel said at the hearing. “There are things we’re going to have to come to grips with, and I believe one of them is bombing the nuclear reactor.”

Some in Congress have bristled at the notion that opposing a deal is the equivalent of pushing for war, but critics of the talks have largely avoided discussing what alternatives would look like if not military action. The public debate has thus regularly focused on areas of perceived weakness in the envisioned agreement, raising concerns that Congress may avoid debating the far greater costs of the alternatives.

“If we are able to sustain the sanctions regime and have a bombing of their plant that sets them back two years or three years, is that really a viable alternative?” Engel asked panelists at the hearing.

The willingness of the committee’s ranking Democrat to discuss the negotiations in such stark terms contrasted with the overall tone of the hearing which, like past hearings in the House and Senate on the Iran talks, featured witnesses that were almost exclusively opposed to a deal.

Three of the panelists served under the Bush Administration when the decision was made to invade Iraq and one–Stephen Rademaker–implored lawmakers to recognize that “any deal is a bad deal.”

Congress will now have 60 days to review a deal if an agreement is secured, and to decide whether to approve it or reject it. A rejection would almost certainly nullify the deal–freeing Iran from nuclear constraints under the agreement and likely unraveling international enforcement of the U.S.-led sanctions regime.

>> Take Action: Urge your lawmakers to support a deal and Vote For Peace

Posted By Jamal Abdi

    4 Responses to “War is Only Alternative to Iran Deal, Warns Top Lawmaker”

  1. Christine Widman says:

    I have been following your newsletter for over half a year now. I sincerely believe in communication between countries. In a United Nations idea of global negotiations always toward compromise and peace. I have been very troubled by several of your headlines…”War is only alternative to Iran deal.” Why is war even a consideration. Certainly, there are hundreds of options. Hundreds of possibilities of making a compromise. I read that the religious leaders in Iran are opposed to a neutral inspection team coming into Iran to make certain nuclear weapons are not being made. This ban restriction by Iranian religious leaders alone makes me unwilling to support a nuclear “deal” with Iran. Please comment and explain to me where my thinking is incorrect. At this point I no longer support a nuclear deal with Iran. Thank you. Sincerely, Christine Widman

  2. nomange says:

    If Engel thinks bombing a nuclear reactor is the right response when that reactor has never been used (and Iran says will never be used) to make WMD- and, indeed, where Iran, despite fabricated intelligence received from the Israelis in 2003 and 2006, never had a WMD program at all after the fall of the Shah- he is advocating a war crime, and should be prepared to be held responsible for that advocacy in the highest courts of the world.

    Furthermore, if Israel were to initiate a ‘pre-emptive’ war against Iran, without any imminent or other realistic threat of being attacked, it should be prepared to be attacked in response as a matter of self defense, and suffer the consequences.

    This is a foolish and ruinous policy offered by Engel, and certainly not one that would benefit Israel or anyone else for that matter- other than those who profit from war and the death and carnage and dispossession that it causes.

  3. Tom Ardavany says:

    The US Congress is myopic. They are servants of war machines like Boeing and Lockheed, etc. They think they can bomb Iran and walk away. War is War. Has anybody thought of what Iran might do if we bomb them? I have heard no mention of that. The hawks, idiots such as Tom Cotton and John McCain, send others to spill their blood and then they make glorious speeches. Bush charges $100,000 at a fund raiser for wounded vets. How nuts does it have to get? The moral imperative has np option other thanCivil disobedience, voting and resisting

  4. Saied Tagavi says:

    No war with Iran.
    War in Iraq is enough. Se what is happning in Iraq and Syria.

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