Last Friday, the JCPA sponsored a conference call with Ambassador Dennis Ross, Counselor and William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, on the recent completion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between the P5 + 1 countries (United States United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, and Russia) and Iran on Iran’s nuclear program.
Ambassador Ross outlined the basic parameters of the agreement, describing both the benefits of the deal and the areas where he feels the accord is weak. He characterized the deal as a tradeoff: sanctions relief for Iran in exchange for transparency on their nuclear program. He also suggested that the Obama administration and Congress may need to consider ways to mitigate the flaws in the agreement by taking action in areas that the accord does not cover. For instance, Israeli and moderate Sunni leaders need to be reassured that the US will work to stop any funds that Iran could funnel toward terrorist groups such as Hezbollah. Ross also suggested that opponents of the agreement need to present a clear alternative to the deal before they urge Congress to reject it.
Since the conference call, there have been a few new developments: the United Nations Security Council ratified the agreement by unanimous vote on July 20, and the resolution will take effect after 90 days. On the same day, the E.U. voted to approve the agreement and the United States Congress began a 60-day review period to decide whether or not to curtail the president’s capacity to waive sanctions currently in place against Iran. If Congress votes to sustain sanctions, the President has vowed to veto the legislation; to override the veto, both houses of Congress would need to muster a two-thirds majority.