US House limits Trump's power in Iran
The U.S. House will vote Thursday on a War Powers Resolution aimed at restricting President Donald Trump's ability to strike militarily against Iran, following a pair of missile strikes by Tehran against U.S. bases in Iraq, UPI writes in the article U.S. House to vote on limiting Trump's power to hit Iran militarily. The vote follows a national address by Trump in which he warned that U.S. missiles are "big, powerful, accurate, lethal and fast."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the lower chamber will vote on the resolution, sponsored by freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, to end the president's ability to launch military actions without express congressional approval. Pelosi announced the vote Wednesday after angry Democratic leaders emerged from a closed-door meeting with top administration officials that addressed the justifications used for last week's airstrike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq. Soleimani's death prompted Tehran to retaliate Wednesday with missile attacks on two U.S. military bases in Iraq. Iranian media reported dozens of American troops were killed, but U.S. defense officials said no service members were even hurt by the strikes.
Echoing earlier statements by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump dismissed Iran's counterattack in a nationally broadcast response Wednesday in which he justified Soleimani's death by calling him a "ruthless terrorist" with American and Iraqi blood on his hands. Trump also warned Iran against further provocation. "Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal and fast," he said. "We do not want to use it. American strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrent."
Trump has previously threatened military action against foreign adversaries like Iran and North Korea, but House Democrats want to ensure he won't act unilaterally. After Wednesday's private meeting, they said they were disconcerted the administration's argument for killing Soleimani wasn't more concrete. "There was no raw evidence presented that this was an imminent threat," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington. "I didn't hear anything in the briefing that there was a lawful basis for the attack and that the threat was imminent," added Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island. "Members of Congress have serious, urgent concerns about the administration's decision to engage in hostilities against Iran and about its lack of strategy moving forward," Pelosi said Wednesday. "Our concerns were not addressed by the president's insufficient War Powers Act notification and by the administration's briefing today."
The Republican-held Senate introduced a bipartisan resolution on Wednesday that underscores the fact Trump does not have congressional authorization to pursue military action against Iran. Introduced by Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., the resolution warns that government authorizations to use military force against terrorists and the state of Iraq, adopted in 2001 and 2002 in the early stages of the U.S. war on terror, legally permit the Trump administration to launch military action against Iran.
Meanwhile, in his address, Donald Trump demanded the withdrawal of the international mediators from the Iranian nuclear deal. Recall that on January 5, Tehran decided to continue the suspension of its obligations in the framework of the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan for the Iranian Nuclear Program (JCPOA). However, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Iran’s statement that it is no longer bound by certain restrictions stipulated in the JCPOA should be considered in the context of the developments since May 2018, when the United States unilaterally stepped out from the deal.
Tehran’s refusal from the restrictions stipulated by the JCPOA for the development of its capacities and technological capabilities of uranium enrichment does not in itself pose any threat in the context of the nuclear weapons proliferation. Iran carries out all its activities in close cooperation and under constant supervision of the IAEA. This is a temporary suspension of the JCPOA provisions that go beyond the NPT and the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement. Iran agreed to them in 2015 in order to achieve a compromise based on the balance of interests and principle of reciprocity in the framework of the transaction. This balance was broken and it cannot be attributed to the country.
According to Smolenskaya Square, Moscow remains fully committed to the JCPOA and its goals. The challenges that the international community has to face in the process of implementing comprehensive agreements require political will and a strong collective response, primarily from the main parties of the JCPOA. The Russian Foreign Ministry is convinced that when these challenges are overcome, the Iranian side will have no reason to deviate from the agreed requirements. Moscow called on all partners not to turn off the path set by the JCPOA and create conditions for its further stable implementation.