New York Senator Chuck Schumer was his usual hawkish self on Sunday evening. In an address to the OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services gala, Schumer railed against the deal the Obama administration struck with Iran and vowed that Democrats and Republicans would work to pile on more economic pressure on the country.
“Democrats and Republicans are going to work together to see that we don’t let up on these sanctions…until Iran gives up not only its nuclear weapons, but all nuclear weapon capability, all enriched uranium,” Schumer said. “Every time the Arab world, the Palestinians, have risen against us, we have risen to defeat them. The one existential threat to Israel’s existence is a nuclear Iran.”
The Democratic Senator made the remarks to attendees at a fundraiser for OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services, an Orthodox Jewish welfare organization. Video of Schumer’s remarks were uploaded by Jacob Kornbluh, a New York-based reporter.
Schumer’s speech was a preview of the potential difficulties the Obama administration will have in convincing the most hawkish Senators and Representatives that sanctions should be held off.
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were successful in pressuring Congress to hold off on new sanctions before last weekend’s Geneva negotiations. During the talks, Kerry reportedly warned that new sanctions would be coming down the pike if no deal was struck to pressure Iran.
But a deal was struck, and now the Obama administration has to watch out for new Congressional efforts to sanction Iran–which would scuttle the deal reached to curb Iran’s enrichment program in exchange for some relief from economic pressure.
In a previous statement, Schumer said that the “disproportionality of this agreement makes it more likely that Democrats and Republicans will join together and pass additional sanctions when we return in December.” Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid called the Iran deal an “important first step” but did not fully close off the possibility that new sanctions would be enacted before the six-month deal with Iran is up.
Some Democrats, like the hawkish Rep. Eliot Engel, said that while he doesn’t trust Iran, the deal should be tested. A more likely scenario than immediate sanctions–which Obama could veto–are new sanctions that would go into effect in six months, which would up the pressure on the Obama administration to reach a far-reaching deal with Iran.
Update: The Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s Ron Kampeas fills in more of the Iran sanctions picture. What emerges from his report is that Congressional hawks will indeed push for new sanctions legislation. But the legislation–if it passes–will only go into affect if Iran cheats or if Iran hasn’t “dismantled” its nuclear program in six months.
Kampeas also reports that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee will be drafting new sanctions legislation after Thanksgiving that will “will condition the environment for a final deal.”