Next US President Cannot Deep-Six JCPOA: US Commentator
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – An American political commentator said it is not in the power of a potential Republican winner of the next US presidential election to undo the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a lasting nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers.
“I do not think a Republican president will be able to overturn the agreement without support in Congress, and it seems to me that Congress is in favor of the agreement. If this did happen, I think US allies in Europe would put enormous pressure on the US to return to the agreement,” Robert Brigham, a professor at Vassar College in New York, told the Tasnim News agency.
A specialist in US foreign policy, Brigham teaches a range of courses covering negotiations to end deadly conflict, human rights, international relations, as well as the history of the Vietnam War.
Following is the full text of the interview:
Q: Tehran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany) on July 14, 2015 finalized a comprehensive deal on Tehran’s nuclear program and implemented it on January 16. Do you think that next US president will maintain the agreement?
A: The Republican candidates all think that the Iran deal was a bad one. They believe that their base does not support a negotiated settlement over Iran's nuclear programs. Trump has made some inroads with his followers stating repeatedly that he would not have given Iran any "aid," implying that the unfrozen Iranian assets were actually US resources. Of course, Congress would have a lot to say about this if one of the Republican candidates is elected.
In the more probable scenario, a Democrat is elected president and the Democratic Party makes some gains in the House and Senate, making it more likely that the deal will stick and that relations will continue to improve between the United States and Iran.
Q: Will a Republican win the 2016 presidential election? If so, will he not deep six the agreement?
A: I do not think a Republican president will be able to overturn the agreement without support in Congress, and it seems to me that Congress is in favor of the agreement. IF this did happen, I think US allies in Europe would put enormous pressure on the US to return to the agreement.
Q: How will the result of the upcoming US presidential election affect developments in the Middle East region?
A: In the larger Middle East, the Republican candidates are talking about military intervention against ISIS (also known as ISIL and Daesh) if they become president. The more likely scenario is that Congress would not give any of these Republicans a resolution allowing intervention to happen. Under the War Powers Act, the president has a short period of time (usually 60-90 days) to put US troops in harm way without Congressional authority. At the end of that period, the president has to have a Congressional resolution to continue military operations. There is little support in the current Congress for this type of resolution. It is likely that Democrats will pick up some seats in the House and Senate, making it even more unlikely that the president can intervene militarily against ISIS with US ground troops. Still, the US is likely to continue to use air power to inflict damage on ISIS and the hopes for a joint operation with Russia grow more likely if the current ceasefire is violated only by ISIS.
On Israel, none of the Republican candidates are likely to change US policy much. Same is true of Clinton. Sanders says he would modify US policy toward Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, but this is highly unlikely. There is some momentum to turn back to the Oslo agreements, especially since ISIS is making some threats to make trouble in Gaza. What is really interesting to me here is that none of the candidates are talking about the struggle within the Palestinian movement beyond the usual loyalties to various groups.