The US Congress once again failed to halt an international deal on Iran’s nuclear programme as the deadline for lawmakers to act arrived Thursday.
At day’s end, senior administration officials said that October 18 is “adoption day” for the agreement, but it was not clear how long it will take Iran to meet the conditions necessary to lift sanctions.
Sanctions would not be lifted until the International Atomic Energy Agency verifies that Iran has taken the steps, the officials said on condition of anonymity.
Although opposition Republicans control both houses of Congress, a last ditch attempt in the Senate fell short of garnering enough votes to advance, marking the third time in a week that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had failed to stymie Obama on Iran.
The latest attempt saw the failure of two resolutions.
One was a resolution of disapproval of the deal that also failed earlier this month to clear Democratic opposition.
The second resolution that failed was an attempt to tie the lifting of sanctions to Iran’s releasing US hostages and recognizing Israel.
US lawmakers had until September 17 to weigh in on the Iran deal, but Senate action last week had effectively ensured that the deal would stand despite repeated attempts by Republicans to revive the debate.
Obama maintains the deal between Tehran and six world powers 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, sealed between Iran and six major world powers including the US, requires Iran to remove thousands of centrifuges and ship out most of its enriched uranium to prevent it from building a nuclear weapon.
It 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 gradually lifted in return, allowing Iran to end its diplomatic and economic isolation.