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Obama Administration: JCPOA is not “Legally Binding”

Obama Administration: JCPOA is not “Legally Binding”

Things have just gone nuclear (no pun intended) regarding Obama’s pet deal with Iran. After receiving a letter from a concerned Kansas lawmaker, the Obama Administration admitted that the deal is not “legally binding.” 

Apparently, the president didn’t think it important to make sure the Iranian leaders actually signed the agreement. “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document,” reads the letter sent by a State Department assisstant secretary to Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo. 

The letter, written earlier this month by Julia Frifield, comes as a response to a letter sent to Secretary of State John Kerry from Pompeo after he noticed that the version of JCPOA submitted to Congress was not signed. Frifield assured Pompeo that the document viewed by Congress was the final version. Rather than a formal agreement, she described the deal as a set of “political commitments.” 

“The success of the JCPOA will depend not on whether it is legally binding or signed, but rather on the extensive verification measures we have put in place, as well as Iran’s understanding that we have the capacity to re-impose – and ramp up – our sanctions if Iran does not meet its commitments,” wrote Frifield. 

I’m not convinced. This is what Iran’s president said after asking his country’s parliament to abstain from voting on the nuclear agreement: “If the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is sent to [and passed by] parliament, it will create an obligation for the government. It will mean the president, who has not signed it so far, will have to sign it. Why should we place an unnecessary legal restriction on the Iranian people?” 

It is statements like this that caused Pompeo to write to the Secretary of State in the first place. “Those signatures represent the commitment of the signatory and the country on whose behalf he or she is signing,” writes Pompeo. “A signature also serves to make clear precisely who the parties to the agreement are and the authority under which that nation entered into the agreement. In short, just as with any legal instrument, signing matters.” 


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