GOP House Freedom Caucus forces delay in vote on Iran deal

Iran-nuclear-deal-1024x576So this is actually happening today . . . Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon and the farther-far-right GOP “House Freedom Caucus” of which he is a member, Freedom is just another word for another wingnut group, has forced the Tan Man, Weeper of the House John Boehner, to pull a scheduled procedural vote today on the P5+1 world powers nuclear agreement with Iran because of an already debunked conspiracy theory about IAEA “secret” side deals with Iran that have been circulating in the conservative media entertainment complex for the past two months.

This eleventh hour act of stupidity by GOP wingnuts could jeopardize the House voting on the Iran agreement before the expiration of the 60 day review period on September 17 that Congress overwhelmingly agreed to months ago. These wingnuts are now demanding to change the rules at the last minute so that they can keep the Iran deal pending indefinitely.

The Hill reports, House GOP to postpone vote on Iran after member revolt:

House Republican leaders are delaying a vote on the Iran nuclear deal scheduled for Wednesday because of a rebellion from rank-and-file conservatives.

The House was to hold a procedural vote to begin 11 hours of debate on a resolution disapproving the deal at 1 p.m. Instead, they will gather at 4 p.m. to discuss strategy.

“We will continue the conversation on Iran from this morning and discuss strategy for the rest of the week,” a GOP leadership aide said.

The House subsequently went into recess shortly after noon once leadership called off the procedural vote.

GOP leaders had to change course after hearing an earful from rank-and-file members during a morning conference meeting.

Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus are demanding that the Obama administration send side deals between Iran and international nuclear inspectors to Congress as part of the Iran deal now under consideration. Opponents of the deal have argued that the clock on congressional consideration of the deal has not even begun until these side deals are submitted. [Bullshit!]

Under legislation approved earlier this year, Congress has 60 days to review the deal before the White House can begin lifting sanctions on Tehran, as required under the nuclear deal.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) has offered a resolution that would prevent a vote on the Iran deal until all of the documents of the international agreement — including the deals between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are provided to Congress for review.

“We had a very healthy conversation with our members this morning. There is some interest in the idea offered by Mr. [Mike] Pompeo, Mr. Roskam. We’re going to continue to have those conversations,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said after a GOP conference meeting.

Aides said they are looking at changing the “rule” — which governs debate on the House floor — so that a vote on Iran can still happen this week.

Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) predicted that the procedural vote on the rule would fail if it were held Wednesday. But neither he nor other members of the House Freedom Caucus who believe Congress lacks all the information it needs to vote on the deal would commit to voting against the rule on the floor.

“If we take a vote prematurely, then we’re saying it doesn’t matter. And again, that’s another form of approval. Why do we want to approve anything here when it’s a bad deal and we don’t even know the worst part of it?” Fleming said.

* * *

But other Republicans say it’s too late to try to stall the vote when Congress’s 60-day review period will close on Sept. 17.

You know what, I think it’s pretty clear that a month and a half ago we understood that Sept. 17 would be the drop-dead date. And the week we’re doing it is a little bit late to bring up the argument,” said House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas).

Even if Roskam’s resolution passed the House, it’s unlikely to pass the Senate where 42 Democrats support the Iran deal and could block the measure from a vote. And resorting to a litigation could take months or even years to resolve — during which President Obama would be likely to lift sanctions within his control.

“I mean, this thing [the Iran deal] would be long in effect. I’m not sure that’s a real option,” said Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio).

The IAEA “secret” side deals conspiracy theory was the result of a deeply flawed AP “exclusive” report that was widely debunked as soon as it was published. Fact Check: Arizona Daily Star publishes a publishes a ‘misrepresentation’ about the Iran deal. The side deal between the IAEA and Iran pertains only to the IAEA “closing the books” on past military nuclear activity at the Parchin military site, and “not the long-term inspection regime agreed to for the remainder of the nuclear deal.” NBC News 8/19/15. On July 20, Max Fisher at Vox.com published an interview with nuclear non-proliferation expert Aaron Stein, who explained that the IAEA would not find anything at Parchin, saying, “it’s completely stripped of anything of value.”  The Iran deal, explained in clear language by a nuclear expert.

But conspiracy theories never die in the land of Wingnuttia.

Once again, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the AP (All Propaganda) report was not only wrong but it was a “misrepresentation.” IAEA says report Iran to inspect own military site is ‘misrepresentation’:

The U.N. nuclear watchdog chief on Thursday rejected as “a misrepresentation” suggestions Iran would inspect its own Parchin military site on the agency’s behalf, an issue that could help make or break Tehran’s nuclear deal with big powers.

Without International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmation that Iran is keeping promises enshrined in the landmark July 14 nuclear accord, Tehran will not be granted much-needed relief from international economic sanctions.

According to data given to the IAEA by some member countries, Iran may have conducted hydrodynamic tests at Parchin in the past to assess how specific materials react under high pressure, such as in a nuclear explosion.

An unconfirmed Associated Press report had cited a draft document suggesting the IAEA would not send its own inspectors into Parchin but would instead get data from Iran on the site.

“I am disturbed by statements suggesting that the IAEA has given responsibility for nuclear inspections to Iran. Such statements misrepresent the way in which we will undertake this important verification work,” IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said in an unusually strongly worded statement on Thursday. Statement by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano.

Under a roadmap accord Iran reached with the IAEA alongside the July 14 political agreement, the Islamic Republic is required to give the IAEA enough information about its past nuclear programme to allow the Vienna-based watchdog to write a report on the issue by year-end.

* * *

The IAEA, which says it takes no information at face value, has repeatedly asked for fresh, direct access to Parchin.

“I can state that the arrangements are technically sound and consistent with our long-established practices. They do not compromise our safeguards standards in any way,” Amano said.

The U.S. State Department said on Thursday the IAEA would “in no way” hand over responsibility for nuclear inspections to Iran. “That is not how the IAEA does business,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

“The U.S. government’s nuclear experts are confident in the Agency’s technical plans for investigating the possible military dimensions of Iran’s former programme,” he said.

A Vienna-based diplomat said he was confident the IAEA would carry out its work on Iran effectively. “Although, we understand the discussions on how to best implement the roadmap are still ongoing,” he told Reuters.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency, told Tasnim news agency: “Reports in media about the agreement between Iran and IAEA are just speculation.”

* * *

“The separate arrangements under the roadmap agreed between the IAEA and Iran in July are confidential and I have a legal obligation not to make them public – the same obligation I have for hundreds of such arrangements,” Amano said.

Max Fisher at Vox. com had more on this AP (All Propaganda) misleading report. The AP’s controversial and badly flawed Iran inspections story, explained:

On Wednesday afternoon, the Associated Press published an exclusive report on the Iran nuclear program so shocking that many political pundits declared the nuclear deal dead in the water. But the article turned out to be a lot less damning that it looked — and the AP, which scrubbed many of the most damning details, is now itself part of this increasingly bizarre story.

* * *

The bottom line here is that this is all over a mild and widely anticipated compromise on a single set of inspections to a single, long-dormant site. The AP, deliberately or not, has distorted that into something that sounds much worse, but actually isn’t. The whole incident is a fascinating, if disturbing, example of how misleading reporting on technical issues can play into the politics of foreign policy.

This all started when the Associated Press published a story with an alarming headline: “AP Exclusive: UN to let Iran inspect alleged nuke work site.”

* * *

Jonathan Alter, the “if true” political reporter, tweeted that the IAEA would indeed be “on the ground” at Parchin, according to the White House. The IAEA has since come out and said the final agreement on Parchin meets all its standards. The IAEA inspector general issued a statement saying he was “disturbed” by the AP story, which “misrepresent[s] the way in which we will undertake this important verification work.”

* * *

A key point here: The Parchin inspection is not part of the Iran nuclear deal that was negotiated by the US and other world powers with Iran. Rather, this is something the IAEA negotiates directly with the country it’s inspecting, in this case Iran.

It is still related to the larger nuclear deal. The IAEA has to give the official thumbs-up on the PMD issue — the deadline is this fall — in order for the nuclear deal to go forward. But neither the US nor Obama are involved in this part — that’s just not how these negotiations works.

 * * *

“No one should be willing to blow up this deal over access to this site,” [Lewis] said. “Because we know what they did there, and there’s nothing we’re going to find out that’s going to change our view. But it’s become, for lack of a better term, a bit of a pissing contest, so here we are.”

Lest you think Lewis is just saying this to defend the nuclear deal, another arms control expert told me the same exact thing more than a month ago, before any of this came out.

“This came down to a pissing contest about whether or not we could go walk into Parchin, which is irrelevant,” Aaron Stein, an arms control and Middle East scholar, told me last month about the negotiations over PMD and Parchin. “In the deal they’re going to give managed access to Parchin, and you know what? We’re going to lose on this because they’re not going to find anything at Parchin. All of this will come down to nothing.”

* * *

Lewis suspects that the point of the leak was to make the IAEA agreement on Parchin sound as bad as possible, and to generate political attention in Washington, with the hopes that political types who do not actually understand normal verification and inspection procedures — much less the Parchin issue — will start making demands.

“Normally people don’t care about this kind of thing,” Lewis said. “Normally, if the IAEA is satisfied, everyone is satisfied. But now [with this story] the IAEA being satisfied is now no longer good enough; people are going to insist that they personally be satisfied.”

This turned out to be a prescient prediction, given today’s “rebellion” from the wingnuts in the GOP “House Freedom Caucus.”

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