US Senators’ Letter Lacks Legal Value

US Senators’ Letter Lacks Legal ValueUS Senators’ Letter Lacks Legal Value

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the open letter of 47 US senators to Iranian officials on a prospective nuclear deal has “no legal value.”

The letter, released on Monday, said Iranian officials should be aware that any nuclear deal with US President Barack Obama could last only as long as he remains in office.

“In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy,” Zarif said, according to a foreign ministry press release.  

“It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history,” he said, adding, “This indicates that like (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu, who considers peace an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content.”

Zarif expressed astonishment that some members of the US Congress find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own president and administration.

He pointed out that the content of the letter indicates that the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.

  US Is Not the World

The foreign minister also said, “I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law.

“The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfill the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.”  

“Change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program,” he said.

He continued, “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with ‘the stroke of a pen,’ as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.”

  UN Resolution

The chief nuclear negotiator emphasized that if the current negotiations with the P5+1 (the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany) result in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the UN Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.

Zarif expressed hope that his comments “may enrich the knowledge of the authors to recognize that according to international law, Congress may not ‘modify the terms of the agreement at any time’ as they claim, and if Congress adopts any measure to impede its implementation, it will have committed a material breach of US obligations.”

The foreign minister also informed the authors that the majority of US international agreements in recent decades are in fact what the signatories describe as “mere executive agreements” and not treaties ratified by the Senate. 

He reminded them that “their letter in fact undermines the credibility of thousands of such ‘mere executive agreements’ that have been or will be entered into by the US with various other governments.”

Zarif concluded by stating, “The Islamic Republic of Iran has entered these negotiations in good faith and with the political will to reach an agreement, and it is imperative for our counterparts to prove similar good faith and political will in order to make an agreement possible.”