Washington – Rep John Larson, D-1st District, said he supports a deal with Iran aimed at curbing the nation’s nuclear ambitions – but he also introduced a resolution that would give the Obama administration authority to use military force against Tehran.
On July 29, two days before he declared his support for the deal, Larson introduced a resolution that would authorize a U.S. military strike against Iran “if Iran commits a serious violation of its commitments or obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” – the official term for the agreement.
Under the agreement, Iran would halt it’s nuclear program in return for an end of economic sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies.
“The president has repeatedly said the number one priority of the United States is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Larson said. “Obviously we hope to accomplish that diplomatically. For those skeptics who doubt whether Iran will hold up their end of this agreement, Congress should provide the president with the authority to use force if necessary.”
The resolution, introduced without fanfare just as Congress prepared to go on its August break, has no co-sponsors.
Ron Schurin, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut, said the White House would find it difficult to justify military action against Iran for a violation of the nuclear agreement without congressional approval.
Schurin said a president has authority to go to war under the War Powers Act, but that requires an imminent threat, which a treaty violation may not pose.
But Schurin also characterized Larson’s actions as political.
“He’s done something to give himself and others who support the deal cover by saying he has given the president authority to use military strength,” Schurin said.
The United States and the other four permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, struck a deal with Tehran on Iran’s nuclear program on July 14 in Vienna. On July 20 the UN Security Council adopted a resolution endorsing the deal.
But opponents say Iran cannot be trusted to stop development of its nuclear program. They also say an end of sanctions will boost Iran’s oil money, funds that would be used to purchase conventional weapons.
Larson said his war resolution “offers assurance to our allies and additional incentive for Iran to uphold the terms of this deal.”
Under his resolution, the administration would have to report on the progress of military action against Iran every 60 days. But it would do little else to tie the administration’s hands.
Larson plans to hold his second public forum on the Iran agreement at the University of Hartford on Aug. 27.
Congress will vote on the agreement in September. Since nearly all Republicans oppose the deal, President Obama needs the loyalties of Democrats to help block a resolution of disapproval in the Senate – or uphold a veto if the resolution is approved.
Besides Larson, Reps. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, and Jim Himes, D-4th District, say they back the nuclear agreement. So does Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-2nd District, and Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, say they are still undecided.