Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Senate Democrats Double Down on Bipartisan Iranian Sanctions

Yesterday, The Israel Project noted that Senate Democrats are doubling down on bipartisan sanctions on Iran -- if Iran cheats or avoids efforts to verify it is upholding its end of the agreement:
The Hill reported mid-Sunday that leading Senate Democrats are doubling down on a bipartisan push to impose sanctions on Iran should the Islamic republic either cheat on the terms of the Joint Plan of Action during an upcoming six-month negotiating period or, at the end of that period, refuse to verifiably put its nuclear program beyond use for weaponization.
A bipartisan group of 26 senators last week unveiled the legislation, which provides the president the flexibility to put off the sanctions for a year as negotiations progress. Responding to explicit accusations that the sitting U.S. senators were trying to drag America into war, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) explained that “there are many of us, Democrats and Republicans in this Senate, who believe the best way to avoid war and get Iran to give up nuclear weapons is by ratcheting up sanctions, not by reducing them.” Schumer went on to gesture toward a long-simmering controversy regarding tensions in the Obama administration’s position on Iran sanctions: The White House insists that while past sanctions successfully coerced the Iranians into negotiating against their will, future sanctions will derail negotiations by draining good will. The Wall Street Journal this weekend also commented on the tension, noting that “Mr. Obama keeps saying that previous sanctions… are what brought Iran to the bargaining table… this [legislation] sharpens the incentive for Iran to dismantle its illegal nuclear facilities.” The Journal noted that “the bill would do nothing to undermine the talks unless Iran isn’t serious” and flatly evaluated that, by threatening to veto the legislation as a threat to negotiations, “the President is siding with Iran against a bipartisan majority in the US Congress.”
Senators Kirk and Menendez -- helping Obama push Iran in the right direction,
whether he likes it or not. Credit: Lobelog.com

The initial reporting on the new sanctions was marred by errors -- implying that the proposed bill would authorize military force against Iran or that the new sanctions would take effect immediately.

Instead, as described by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), the proposed sanctions against Iran would require:
further reductions in purchases of Iranian petroleum and… additional penalties to strategic elements of the Iranian economy [as] an insurance policy to defend against Iranian deception during negotiations.
Obama has threatened to veto the bill, but the fact that the Senate has gone ahead despite the threats following an attempt to convince Senators that loosening the sanctions would insure Iranian compliance -- indicates that Congress does not see eye-to-eye with Obama on Iran and does not trust him to go it alone.

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