Rep. Ellison has laid down an important marker the week before the House Foreign Affairs Committee plans to vote on new unilateral sanctions against Iran. He’s against it:

Fifteen years of sanctions on Iran have taught us one important lesson: They have not produced the intended results. More sanctions are unlikely to produce results now. In fact, additional sanctions, while satisfying some, are more likely to produce results that we do not intend. If we impose increased sanctions, we will likely strengthen President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hand and risk snuffing out the emerging democracy movement in Iran.

Rep. Ellison reiterates his concern about the Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon and says the United States “must stand firmly on key issues like human rights.” But, he concludes:

Congress needs to give President Barack Obama’s diplomatic efforts a chance before increasing sanctions. So far, President Obama’s disciplined diplomacy is working. There is finally some progress in dealing with Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

The timing of the Committee hearing, coming as it does in the midst of the P5+1 talks, has concerned many. The Obama administration has not requested these sanctions and has not said that they would be helpful. In fact, when Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg was asked for the administration’s position on the sanctions bill, he said:

“We still have not reached a firm judgment on whether that would be the best way to go.”1

House sources tell us there will be additional opposition to the Iran sanctions legislation at the hearing.
[1] Senate Banking Committee Hearing: “Minimizing Potential Threats from Iran: Administration Perspectives on Economic Sanctions and Other US Policy Options,” Oct. 6, 2009 – http://banking.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_ID=23f97300-5b76-483b-9225-aa14a2a82e79

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