Exposed: Serious Flaws in the Kirk-Menendez Iran Sanctions (Wag the Dog) Bill

Ed Levine, an arms control specialist who worked for both Republican and Democratic senators for 20 years on the Intelligence Committee and another ten on the Foreign Relations Committee, has written a detailed and devastating analysis of S. 1881, the Kirk-Menendez bill, for the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation on whose advisory board he currently serves. We have reproduced it below, but it makes clear that, contrary to claims by the bill’s Democratic co-sponsors, the Iran Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2013 is designed to torpedo the Nov. 24 “first step” nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1. Passage of the bill, Levine concludes, would “leave the United States closer to a Hobson’s choice between going to war with Iran and accepting Iran as an eventual nuclear weapons state.”

Indeed, it’s quite clear from Sen. Mark Kirk’s reaction (as well as those of other Republicans, including that of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor) to the implementation accord between the P5+1 that the entire purpose of the bill is to derail the Nov. 24 agreement, as opposed to acting as a “diplomatic insurance policy” to ensure that its terms are fulfilled, as Sen. Menendez argued last week in the Washington Post. Indeed, Senate Republicans, all but two of whom have co-sponsored the bill, are clearly doing the bidding of AIPAC and Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu in trying to subvert the Nov. 24 agreement, while the 16 Democratic senators who have signed as co-sponsors have insisted that the bill is intended to support that accord. One would think the very partisan difference in the understanding of the intent of the bill would lead some of these 16 Democrats to reconsider their support. That may well be beginning to happen anyway as a result of Sunday’s successful conclusion of the implementation accord, as pointed out in this report by Reuters. But the difference in intent will probably make it easier for the White House to keep the majority of Democrats from breaking ranks.

As of now, the bill has 59 co-sponsors, but the magic number is 67 — a veto-proof majority. While Senate staffers close to AIPAC claimed anonymously last week that they had that many, and at least ten more, committed “yes” votes if the bill came to the floor, the combination of Sunday’s implementation agreement and the clarity of purpose shown by Kirk and Cantor in their reactions to the accord probably diminishes the chances of their reaching that goal. Moreover, unless they get at least half a dozen more Democrats to co-sponsor, Majority Leader Harry Reid is considered unlikely to schedule a vote and almost certainly not before the Presidents’ Day recess in mid-February in any case. And if even a few current Democratic co-sponsors decide to drop their support, the bill may never see the light of day. (AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference here in Washington is March 2-4.)

This is Levine’s analysis: