Senate torpedoes the Iran nuclear deal

Andrew Harrer / POOL

US President Barack Obama, Washington, DC, USA, on 30 November 2016.

Senate torpedoes the Iran nuclear deal


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The US Senate has begun an assault on President Obama’s legacy agreement with Iran and voted to extend US sanctions against Iran for a decade.

The bill passed with a 99-to-0 vote, with lawmakers falling into line with the intentions of President-elect Donald Trump. A week ago, the House of Representative also passed the same bill by 419-to-1.

The law dates back to 1996 and allows the US to sanction companies doing business with Iran. Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland – one of the few to vote with the Republicans against the deal – see maintaining the law as “a deterrent,” suggesting it would not necessarily be enforced.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he expected the Trump administration to review US policy towards Iran. During the campaign, Trump vowed to demolish the nuclear with Iran, which he believes to be “the stupidest deal of all time.”

It is unclear whether the White House will veto the Senate, although the White House remains committed to the international accord that is meant to limit Tehran’s ability to develop nuclear arms. Without the economic incentive of retaining market access, hardliners in Tehran are likely to be empowered.

What is clear is that the departing director of the C.I.A, John O. Bennon, said on Wednesday that ending the nuclear deal with Iran would be “disastrous.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is warning that the renewal of sanctions would trigger a “definite response.”

epa05655574 Republican Senate Majority Leader from Kentucky Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor to vote on a 10-year extension of the Iran sanctions law in the US Capitol in Washington, DC, USA, 01 December 2016. The law enables the US to sanction companies that engage in business dealings with Iran. EPA/JIM LO SCALZO

Republican Senate Majority Leader from Kentucky Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor to vote on a 10-year extension of the Iran sanctions law in the US Capitol in Washington, DC, USA, 01 December 2016. The law enables the US to sanction companies that engage in business dealings with Iran. EPA/JIM LO SCALZO

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