Was Federal Law Broken by Deal with Iran?

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Fri, Oct 9 - 4:00 am EDT | 3 years ago by
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The U.S.-Iran nuclear deal, which has emerged as a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy while drawing massive criticism from the GOP and Israel, reportedly has been found by senior officials to be in violation of federal law. The key sanctions relief package, which would allow Iran to once again engage in lucrative commercial activities with the U.S., cannot come into play without breaking a variety of laws, according to an exclusive Fox News report.

 Barack Obama
Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

The Iran nuclear deal, which is formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), contains language that allows foreign subsidiaries of American companies to do business with Iran. However, the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (ITRA), signed into law by Obama in 2012, specifically prohibits such actions, holding foreign subsidiaries to the same standards as their stateside parent companies.

In order to lift these restrictions, Iran would have to be expunged from the list of states that sponsor terrorism, and it would have to prove that it will no longer pursue, obtain or develop any weapons of mass destruction. Obama also signed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which stipulates that the Iran nuclear deal must not violate any federal laws that were already in effect when the deal was negotiated.

According to legal experts, the JCPOA could be challenged in the courts because it comes down as an “executive agreement,” not a treaty, since it was never approved by Congress. Several precedents have been established that show that executive agreements in violation of federal statutes are likely to be shut down if challenged. As it stands, any path that Obama takes to enacting the nuclear deal will end up conflicting with the laws set forth in ITRA.

“It’s a problem that the president doesn’t have the ability wave a magic wand and make go away,” Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a Harvard-trained lawyer, told Fox News in an interview. “Any U.S. company that follows through on this, that allows their foreign-owned subsidiaries to do business with Iran, will very likely face substantial civil liability, litigation and potentially even criminal prosecution. The obligation to follow federal law doesn’t go away simply because we have a lawless president who refuses to acknowledge or follow federal law.”

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