Attempt to kill Iran deal fails in US Senate

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An effort to scuttle the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme failed Thursday in the US Senate as President Barack Obama’s Democrats blocked a resolution disapproving the deal.

The 58-42 vote to advance the legislation fell short of the three-fifths supermajority needed in the 100-member chamber.

US lawmakers have until September 17 to weigh in on the Iran deal. The lower House of Representatives is still debating the agreement, but the Senate’s action effectively ensures that the deal will stand.

“Today’s outcome was clear, decisive and final,” said Senator Harry Reid, leader of the Senate’s Democratic minority. “There is, now, no doubt that the US Congress will allow this historic agreement to proceed.”

Obama welcomed Senate action on the Iran nuclear deal that keeps alive one of his signature foreign policy achievements.

“This vote is a victory for diplomacy, for American national security and for the safety and security of the world,” Obama said in a statement.

He thanked lawmakers for their support and pledged to turn to the work of implementing the agreement to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

The Republican-controlled House later passed 245-186 a separate measure alleging that Obama had failed to comply with US law by not delivering all the agreements related to the Iran deal. It points to so-called side agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to resolve concerns about past military dimensions of the nuclear programme.

The lower chamber was to vote Friday on the international agreement itself and a measure aimed at preventing Obama from lifting any sanctions on Iran.

Even if lawmakers could still pass a resolution against the agreement, Obama has vowed to veto any disapproval, and he has public support from enough Senate Democrats to prevent the Congressional override needed to scuttle the agreement.

Mitch McConnell, leader of majority Republicans in the Senate, vowed to try again next week to pass a resolution against the Iran deal, but that would require at least two senators to change their votes.

“I don’t know what they’re protecting him from,” McConnell said of Democrats’ efforts to keep a disapproval measure from Obama’s desk.

McConnell argued that Obama should be given the opportunity to carry out a veto.

Reid said any effort to revive the issue would be “wasted time.”

Earlier Thursday, the leaders of Britain, France and Germany expressed confidence in the agreement reached between six world powers and Iran on its nuclear programme.

“This is an important moment. It is a crucial opportunity at a time of heightened global uncertainty to show what diplomacy can achieve,” British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote in the Washington Post.

Obama maintains the deal is the best way to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Critics, including some in his own Democratic Party, say the controls do not go far enough and would allow Tehran to acquire a weapon once key provisions expire.

The agreement restricts Iran’s nuclear activities for years to come in an effort to prevent a new nuclear power from emerging in the conflict-ridden Middle East.

Western economic sanctions are to be lifted in return, allowing Iran to end its diplomatic isolation.

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