Republican opponents of the nuclear deal with Iran suffered a major blow last night as they failed to muster enough support in the US Senate to force a vote on the agreement.
The deal, which will see sanctions on Iran gradually lifted in return for a decade-long cessation of nuclear development, has been heavily criticised by Republican lawmakers and some Democrats. US Congress was permitted a 60-day period to review the accord and its critics had hoped to gather enough support to reject the deal and override a presidential veto. However, their hopes appear to have been dashed after Senate Democrats were able last night to prevent a Republican effort to vote on a resolution disapproving the deal.
Democratic leader in the Senate Harry Reid said that yesterday’s vote was “clear, decisive and final.” In a statement, the White House said that the Senate had taken “an historic step forward” and that “We will turn to the critical work of implementing and verifying this [nuclear] deal.”
However, Senate Majority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell indicated that the debate would continue. He said that there would be “one more chance” next week for the Senate to vote on the deal. Media reports speculate that Republicans in the US House of Representatives will bring a motion claiming that the Congressional review period has not yet begun, as details of agreements between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran have not yet been published. These side agreements will largely determine the voracity of inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel penned a joint op-ed in the Washington Post in support of the nuclear deal. They say, “We are confident that the agreement provides the foundation for resolving the conflict on Iran’s nuclear program permanently.” However, they also criticised Iran’s non-recognition of Israel and said that “Israel’s security matters are, and will remain, our key interests, too.”