One last effort by the US Senate Republicans to bury the Iran nuclear deal was blocked by the Senate Democrats on Thursday, securing President Barack Obama’s perhaps greatest foreign policy victory since he came in office and opening the way to execute the accord.
By a 56-42 vote, the Republican dominated Senate failed to secure the 60 votes needed to advance in the 100-member chamber, as the 60-day period for Congress to pass a resolution disapproving the international agreement has reached the September 17 deadline.
A resolution would have had to pass both the Senate and House of Representatives and survive Obama's veto, to be decreed.
The vote comes after last week’s two failed votes at the Senate and House. Unlike the previous votes, this one included an amendment that would have disallowed Obama from easing sanctions unless Iran released American prisoners and recognised Israel's concerns on the deal.
“We cannot allow Iran to be empowered as a nuclear threshold state armed with billions in sanctions relief without at least providing some protection to Israel first, without at least demanding the release of Americans who have languished in Iranian custody for years,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican.
However, Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware backed the deal.
“The best way to make sure hostages are released, the best way to hasten the day that Israel has the kind of relationship with Iran that they had not that many years ago, is to fully implement the plan that’s before us,” he said.
The majority of Democrats favour the deal except four senators, who jointly took action with Republicans to advance the disapproval resolution all three times.
Tehran and the six world powers had in April agreed on a framework deal on curbing Iran’s nuclear programme before announcing a comprehensive agreement on July 14.
Iran will have to redesign, convert and reduce its nuclear facilities as part of the agreement.
In return, all nuclear-related economic sanctions, that have been negatively affecting the country’s economy, will be lifted by the western powers.
As the deal cleared the last hurdle in Congress, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Thursday, a former US ambassador to Poland, Stephen Mull, will be the lead US coordinator for the implementation of the nuclear agreement.
With his experience for working on nuclear and sanctions issues, Mull will be following Iran in two steps refered as “adoption day” and “implementation day”. If Iran completes the first step starting October 18, a process which is expected to take months, the parties will move on to the next step.