Rob Portman signs letter to the Ayatollah

Senator Rod Portman was among the 47 Senators who sent a letter to Iran on March 9, 2015 that said an agreement with the President of the United States would likely not be honored by future Presidents. The stupidity of trying to prevent a nuclear non-proliferation agreement is made even worse since the wording of the letter suggests that agreements signed by any President are only good as long as he (or she) is in office.

When Portman stands for reelection next year, we must remind people that he allowed his ideological disagreement with the President of the United States to lead him to sign a letter to the Ayatollah that undermines the authority of all Presidents. He did this despite the fact that neither the Senate as a whole nor any individual Senators or group of them has any constitutional right to such interference.

While the Senate has the power to advise and consent to treaties, the fact is that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty already exists. It was ratified by the Senate in 1969 and put in force in 1970 and extended indefinitely in 1995. The talks with Iran involve not just the United States but also Britain, China, France, and Russia (the five permanent members of the Security Council) plus Germany (P5+1).

Article II of the Treaty binds each “non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty … not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons.” Article IV of the Treaty declares that it is “the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.” Article III of the Treaty sets the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as the party to ensure that Article II is met without interfering with Article IV.

Addressing the 2015 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said, “IAEA inspectors are continuously present on the ground in Iran and have been able to verify that Iran is meeting its commitments under the [2013] Joint Plan of Action. “ However he also said, “Iran needs to help clarify concerns about possible military dimensions to its nuclear program.” Director General Amano also noted, "The IAEA is a technical organization, not a political one. Our job is to establish the facts, to the best of our ability."

Thus these political talks with Iran are being undertaken by the P5+1 to ensure that Iran will clarify these concerns in their cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. These discussions are occurring under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to which the United States Senate has already given its advice and consent. The Senate’s constitutional role has ended.

Rob Portman should be ashamed that, without any constitutional justification, he has undermined the authority of this President and all future Presidents to negotiate on behalf of the United States simply because he has a political disagreement with this President. He is blind to the interests of the country because of his ideological extremism.