Former CIA Officer: Israel Pressing US Congress to Defeat Iran Nuclear Deal

© REUTERS / Ammar AwadIsrael's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem July 14, 2015
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem July 14, 2015 - Sputnik International
Former Central Intelligence Agency officer Paul Pillar claims that the Israeli government is pressing the US Congress to defeat the Iranian nuclear agreement when it comes up for a vote.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik), Leandra Bernstein — The Israeli government is pressing the US Congress to defeat the Iranian nuclear agreement when it comes up for a vote, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer Paul Pillar told Sputnik.

“Right now they [the Israeli government] are focusing on Congress, and there is still considerable hope in the [Israeli] government that they can work the usual political channels they work in Washington and there will be a resolution of disapproval and a veto override,” Pillar said on Thursday of Israeli efforts to scuttle the Iranian nuclear agreement.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a leading critic of the international agreement to block Iran’s pathway to a nuclear weapon. Following the signing of the agreement on Tuesday, Netanyahu called the international deal with Tehran “a historic mistake," alleging it will eventually lead to a nuclear Iran.

Netanyahu’s position has strong support among powerful pro-Israel lobbying groups, like the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.

The outcome of the Iranian nuclear agreement “might come down to just three or four votes,” Pillar stated. He estimated that the Republican-controlled Congress will likely pass a resolution of disapproval on the nuclear deal, but will not be able to sustain a veto by US President Barack Obama.

Under a law passed in May 2015, the US Congress will have a period of 60 days to review the nuclear agreement and pass a resolution of approval or disapproval.

If the Congress disapproves of the deal, they will need a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate to override a presidential veto, which President Obama has threatened to use.

Paul Pillar served in the US intelligence community for nearly three decades, and retired in 2008 from his position as the National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia.

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Pillar also claims that opposition to the Iranian nuclear deal among Republican presidential hopefuls may backfire if the party takes the White House in 2016

“We already have all the presidential candidates on the Republican side, and the Speaker of the House saying, ‘we are going to do everything we can to kill this agreement’,” Pillar said on Thursday.

The opposition to the Iran nuclear deal from Republicans running in the 2016 race “is going to be pretty heavy campaign baggage,” he noted.

Each of the Republican presidential candidates have voiced disapproval of the nuclear deal the United States and other P5+1 countries negotiated with Iran.

If the United States elects a Republican in 2016, that president will have a hard time facing members of his own party, Pillar said. He explained that the next president “is not going to be able to say, come February or March of 2017, ‘We got this agreement, we have got to try to make it work.’”

After the nuclear agreement was reached on Tuesday, Republican front-runner Jeb Bush denounced the deal with Iran as “dangerous, and deeply flawed.”

Republican candidates currently serving in the US Senate have voiced their intention to vote against the deal when it comes up for congressional review.

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