- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 19, 2014

In another example of the White House bypassing Congress to avoid a vote it would lose, the Obama administration will not to seek congressional approval to suspend sanctions against Iran if a deal on the Islamic republic’s nuclear program can be reached, The New York Times reported Sunday night.

According to the report by David Sanger, citing American and Iranian officials, Iran has agreed in principle that a “suspension” of sanctions would be enough for them to take away from the negotiating table.

“But Mr. Obama cannot permanently terminate those sanctions. Only Congress can take that step. And even if Democrats held on to the Senate next month, Mr. Obama’s advisers have concluded they would probably lose such a vote,” The Times wrote.

The difference between a temporary suspension and an outright revocation can keep attorneys up at nights, but there is no immediate-term difference and the Obama administration plans to use that to its advantage.

“We wouldn’t seek congressional legislation in any comprehensive agreement for years,” one senior official told The New York Times.

A deal with Iran probably would not be a formal treaty and thus would not constitutionally require the Senate’s approval, but lawmakers of both parties say that doesn’t matter — they don’t want the administration undermining sanctions Congress has duly passed.

Congress will not permit the president to unilaterally unravel Iran sanctions that passed the Senate in a 99-0 vote,” said Sen. Mark Kirk, Illinois Republican.

Indeed, Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has sponsored legislation that would impose further sanctions on Iran if a nuclear deal isn’t inked by the Nov. 24 deadline set by the negotiating countries — Iran, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, representing the European Union.

“If a potential deal does not substantially and effectively dismantle Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program, I expect Congress will respond. An agreement cannot allow Iran to be a threshold nuclear state,” he told The Times over the weekend.

The talks are still haggling over such issues as the scope of international inspections and details of the nuclear-related facilities Iran will continue to have.

Iran also wants broader relief from United Nations sanctions that, for example, bar it from importing dual-use equipment.

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