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AIPAC Breaks With Obama on Pending Iran Nuclear Deal

By    |   Monday, 02 March 2015 08:24 AM

America's top Israel lobby has taken a public stance to break with the White House over its Iran policy, believing a pending deal is too weak in preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the leadership of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), representing 16,000 members, has used the first day of its three-day policy conference to outline an alternative strategy to the president's.

The group's plan would give Congress the power to undo any agreement with Tehran that is deemed too weak by imposing new sanctions on Iran and blocking the White House's ability to lift existing sanctions, which is an expected part of the agreement currently being forged by the administration.

"Congress has a critical role" in determining this deal, Howard Kohr, AIPAC's executive director, said in opening remarks aimed at rallying the group's membership, according to the Journal.

"Congress' role doesn't end when there is a deal. Congress must review this deal."

Kohr and other leaders of the group believe any agreement with Iran must ensure a complete dismantling of Iran's nuclear capabilities, which is something the Obama administration said is no longer an option on the table.

The group wants to see new sanctions imposed on Iran in the event that there is no agreement forged by the late March deadline and shift to a vote in Congress, believing the White House has not been strong enough to use both financial pressure and the threat of military action to challenge Tehran, the Journal said.

AIPAC was central in lobbying for sanctions to be imposed on Tehran's central bank back in 2012, which gained the support of 99 senators even though it was initially opposed by the White House.

"Congress, time and time again, has led the effort to bring pressure on Iran," Kohr told the Journal. "The administration took ownership of this."

Two representatives of President Barack Obama's foreign policy team will be addressing AIPAC on Monday to try to ease the organization's position: National Security Adviser Susan Rice and U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power.

Senior U.S. officials insist that the approach by AIPAC and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not realistic and could result in a military clash with Iran.

The administration insists that the deal it is pursuing will significantly cap Iran's ability to produce nuclear weapons and result in strong monitoring of Tehran's nuclear infrastructure.

Officials also say that the approach would prevent a split with the international coalition imposing the sanctions on Iran.

But AIPAC's leadership said that the United States "shouldn't be afraid of Iran leaving the table," Kohr said, according to the Journal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to address the conference during his visit to the United States this week. 

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AIPAC, America's leading pro-Israel lobby, has gone public with its break with the White House over the administration's Iran policy, believing a pending deal is too weak in preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability.
aipac, israel, iran, nuclear, talks
Monday, 02 March 2015 08:24 AM
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