Follow us on social

2020-09-23t155218z_20709791_rc2f4j9ad172_rtrmadp_3_health-coronavirus-usa-hearing-scaled

Sen. Rand Paul bucks party, says getting out of Iran deal was 'a mistake'

The Kentucky Republican leaves classified briefing, says US in "much more difficult position now" than when the JCPOA was enforced.

Analysis | Reporting | Middle East

While the rest of his party remains in firm opposition to it, Republican Senator Rand Paul appears to be in favor of a return to the Iran nuclear deal. He said as much on Tuesday, charging that America’s exit from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was a “mistake” made by former President Donald Trump. 

The Senator made the statements in an interview with POLITICO’s Andrew Desiderio after a classified briefing on Capitol Hill, adding that “by all accounts, we’re in a much more difficult position now than when we had” an intact JCPOA. 

Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear agreement in 2018 and placed a “maximum pressure” sanctions regime on Iran. He believed the economic war would force Iran to the table and he could negotiate a tougher agreement. At the time, the UN nuclear watchdog had confirmed Iran was in full compliance with the JCPOA.

Tehran has made several advancements in its nuclear program, since. However, the progress has remained in the civilian sector. There is no indication Iran is looking to make nuclear weapons. The Iranian government has withstood a lot of the economic pressure, in part, by increasing ties with Venezuela and China. 

The Biden administration has been in negotiations with Iran — and the other parties to the JCPOA, including Russia, China, UK, Germany, France and the EU  — in Vienna for several months with many expecting that there will be an agreement announced in the very near future. 

But one hurdle to a potential return to the agreement is Congressional opposition. Paul recently broke with his party when he became the only GOP Senator not to sign on to a letter that condemned what they considered a weak deal on the table with Iran. (Many Democrats, including Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, are also opposed to a successful return to the old agreement). 

The March 14 Republican letter states that the senators want nothing less than a new deal with new restrictions on Iran that go far beyond its nuclear program:

“Republicans have made it clear: We would be willing and eager to support an Iran policy that completely blocks Iran’s path to a nuclear weapons capability, constrains Iran’s ballistic missile program, and confronts Iran’s support for terrorism. But if the administration agrees to a deal that fails to achieve these objectives or makes achieving them more difficult, Republicans will do everything in our power to reverse it.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence, in a recent trip to Israel, told Israeli leaders and the press that any future Republican administration would tear up any deal Biden made in Vienna immediately. The Israel government has been one of the deal’s biggest critics and played a heavy role in convincing Trump to withdraw from it in 2018. Interestingly, former Israeli leaders have come forward in recent months to say they thought getting out of the deal and accompanying maximum pressure campaign against Iran might have been a strategic mistake.

With the even Republican-Democrat divide in Congress, Paul's support could actually be crucial for a return to the nuclear agreement with Iran, and he could even serve as an example to other Republicans who may not be so adamantly against it.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) looks on during a U.S. Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing, September 23, 2020. Alex Edelman/Pool via REUTERS
Analysis | Reporting | Middle East
Will stock trade ban curtail DOD budget corruption?

Billion Photos via shutterstock.com

Will stock trade ban curtail DOD budget corruption?

QiOSK

A new bipartisan proposal to ban members of Congress and their immediate family members from trading individual stocks looks to close a glaring conflict of interest between politicians who control massive government budgets, much of which go to private contractors.

The potential for serious conflicts of interest are quickly apparent when reviewing the stock trades of members of Congress's Senate and House Armed Services Committees, the panels responsible for the National Defense Authorization Act, the bill that sets recommended funding levels for the Department of Defense.

keep readingShow less
Where are Trump's possible VPs on foreign policy?

Aaron of LA Photography, lev radin, and Allssandro Pietri via shutterstock.com

Where are Trump's possible VPs on foreign policy?

Washington Politics

Donald Trump will soon be selecting a running mate for the general election, and his choices have reportedly narrowed to Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

All three have been auditioning for the role, and one of them will presumably be selected before the Republican convention next week. Whoever gets the nod has a decent chance of being elected the next vice president and in that role he will have some influence in shaping a second Trump administration. So it is worth reviewing the foreign policy views of Trump’s possible picks to see what the selection can tell us about the direction Trump will take if he wins this November.

keep readingShow less
Shutterstock_624917975-scaled-e1644615001666
Russian President Boris Yeltsin and U.S. President Bill Clinton shake hands at a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Washington DC., September 28Th, 1994. (mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com).
Russian President Boris Yeltsin and U.S. President Bill Clinton shake hands at a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Washington DC., September 28Th, 1994. (mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com).

Declassified docs: US knew Russia felt 'snookered' by NATO

QiOSK

This week at the NATO summit in Washington, alliance leaders are expected to sign a joint communique that declares that Ukraine is on an “irreversible” path to joining the alliance.

This decision is likely to be celebrated as a big step forward and a reflection of Western unity behind Ukraine, but a series of newly declassified documents show that the U.S. has known all along that NATO expansion over the last 30 years has posed a threat to Russia, and may have been a critical plank in Moscow's aggressive policies over that time, culminating in the invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

keep readingShow less

Israel-Gaza Crisis

Latest