Weeks of stalled nuclear talks felt like they were building up somewhere, and this past week has seen the Iran talks fall apart, with the US backing away from the process, without calling the talks dead. On Wednesday, the US Senate sought to double down on this.
In a 62-33 non-binding motion, the Senate voted to preclude any revived nuclear deal with Iran in which the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is removed from the terrorism blacklist.
Superficially, the Biden Administration had already ruled out removing the IRGC from the list last week. This week saw the administration preparing to preclude a nuclear deal, so what does the Senate’s move mean?
Broadly, it is a statement of intentions. This vote can be seen as a trial vote for any Senate vote to authorize a new deal, giving every reason to believe that any attempt to Biden to reverse course and try to get the deal through would face a likely insurmountable Senate opposition.
It’s a non-binding motion, so the Senate isn’t stopping Biden from making a deal. They are telling him, and Iran, that the deal isn’t going to survive senatorial oversight. Leaving the negotiations unsettled and the deal un-reached is seemingly the only option available to them.
The Wednesday vote is a potential bellwether for future efforts, showing who stands on which side. The vote showed broad Republican opposition to the nuclear deal, with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) the lone Republican on the nay side, along with three abstentions. The Democrats were more split on the issue, but with highly-ranking Democrats like Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) opposing the deal.
This will likely discourage the Biden administration, and they already seemed inclined to stop the Iran talks. It will only inform Iran that fears the US won’t honor any deal reached in Vienna were well-founded.