WASHINGTON — At the first Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing since implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, committee chair Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) expressed consternation that the international coalition responsible for holding Iran accountable for its obligations lacks the will to do so.
After the United Nations Security Council didn’t address Iran violating its own ban on ballistic missile testing in recent months, it’s more than unlikely that an international partnership would respond effectively to more violations as European countries begin conducting business with the Islamic Republic, Corker indicated Wednesday.
“The thinking that we are going to easily put that coalition back if there is something so out of bounds and egregious when everybody is in Tehran doing business right now is just not going to happen,” he said at this week’s hearing. “There now is no coalition and to me that is one of the greatest flaws of this deal now that they have what they want.”
Last week, the accord — formerly known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — took effect after the International Atomic Energy Agency certified Iran’s compliance with the terms of the deal, which included dismantling most of its nuclear infrastructure. In accordance with the agreement, the United States and European nations lifted a spate of crippling oil and financial sanctions on Iran, releasing more than $100 billion in frozen assets.
Corker, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has consistently opposed the deal. Since September 2015, however, when the JCPOA survived a vote in Congress, he has vowed to use his committee to impose “vigorous oversight” of its implementation and possibly “impose new sanctions should Iran breach the terms of the agreement.”
Corker also emphasized a growing concern that the deal was feeding a perception to America’s allies in the region of a Middle East “realignment.”
“I think all of us have been very concerned about how the agreement is going to affect the region,” Corker said. “And I think there’s no question that our friends in the region believe there is a realignment that’s taking place relative to how the [Obama] administration is approaching the region. I know that there are a lot of concerns on both sides of the aisle within the committee here as to how that’s going to take shape.
“We want to make sure that as a committee we’re doing everything we can to deter Iran from doing the kinds of things that we all have feared after receiving the large amounts of money that they are obviously receiving now,” he added.