December 20, 2013 | Quote

Congress is Trying to Stop a War, Not Start One

Last week when Senate sanctions and a House resolution on Iran failed to emerge, a number of media outlets said the administration had “won” in closing sanctions down. We disagreed, pointing to ongoing talks, especially in the Senate, and strong support for sanctions from Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). Yesterday our assessment proved correct when over a quarter (26) the Senate, roughly half Republicans and half Democrats, co-sponsored a bill to enact sanctions if Iran cheats during the interim agreement or fails to reach a final deal and to reaffirm the parameters of a final deal (terms embodied in United Nations resolutions and articulated by three presidents, including this one).

Those parameters include “dismantl[ing] Iran’s illicit nuclear infrastructure, including enrichment and reprocessing capabilities and facilities, the heavy water reactor and production plant at Arak, and any nuclear weapon components and technology, so that Iran is precluded from a nuclear breakout capability and prevented from pursuing both uranium and plutonium pathways to a nuclear weapon.” In addition, Iran must come into compliance with all U.N. resolutions and allow round-the-clock inspections.

The bill includes broad waiver authority for the administration. (This had been a concern for some Democrats.)

The administration understands this at some level. Prompted by Congress, it upped sanctions enforcement last week –something it hasn’t done in a very long time. Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies observes, “Actively punishing Iran for its mendacity while trying to selectively reduce other sanctions (in this case, automotive, petrochemicals and precious metals) for the sake of diplomacy projects two competing messages. It should come as no surprise that this dual approach has inspired the confidence of neither Iran nor Congress. Indeed, the only actors out there who are heartened by Washington’s conflicted policies are the companies eyeing investments in Iran. They see confusion, and therefore ambiguity. And that’s a whole lot better than the investment environment of just a few months ago, when Iran appeared to be completely off limits.” That is what the Congress is trying to prevent.

Read the full article here.


Iran Iran Sanctions