December 12, 2017

NIAC Action Statement on Congress Abstaining from Iran Sanctions Snapback

Washington, DC – Jamal Abdi, Executive Director of NIAC Action, issued the following statement as Congress abstained from introducing fast-track legislation to snap back nuclear sanctions on Iran under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act:

“Republican leadership in Congress has now implicitly acknowledged the utter recklessness of the U.S. abandoning its commitments under the Iran nuclear deal. Many lawmakers campaigned against the deal, distorting the facts and even taking outrageous actions during the negotiations such as writing to Iran’s leaders to threaten that Obama’s successor could overturn the accord with the stroke of a pen. Yet, presented with the opportunity to put their heated rhetoric to action with an up-or-down vote to kill the Iran deal, Congress quietly abstained. The only logical conclusion is that even critics of the agreement recognized the profound consequences of the U.S. unilaterally altering the terms of the deal and abandoning an agreement that is working.

“Despite this victory on Capitol Hill, the accord is still in extreme jeopardy. In his speech withholding certification of the deal in October, Trump issued a clear threat to terminate the accord if his demands to unilaterally alter its terms are not met. There was no time limit on this threat and Trump may follow through as soon as January. Now, if Congress has any conscience about preventing a reckless President from doing untold damage to U.S. interests and international stability, they must take actions to restrain Trump from killing the deal on his own.

“Unfortunately, the Administration and Congress continue to pursue a ‘death by a thousand cuts’ approach to the nuclear deal, escalating sanctions and deterring businesses from permissible business in order to deny Iran the benefit of its bargain. Tomorrow, two additional pieces of Iran legislation aimed at disrupting the deal will receive a vote on the House floor. If not contained, this escalatory pattern risks rendering the agreement politically unsustainable in Iran.

“Trump came into office with as clean a slate on Iran as any recent President could hope for – Iran’s nuclear program was contained and subjected to intrusive inspections, and there were solid diplomatic channels that could be utilized to reduce tensions further. Rather than follow the successful track record of engagement and dialogue to resolve remaining, serious concerns – from human rights to proxy wars across the region – Trump is kicking a hornet’s nest by threatening to unravel the nuclear accord and return the U.S. and Iran to the brink of war. If legislators recognize the profound consequences of unilaterally killing the nuclear accord, they should now step up to protect the nuclear deal and restrain Trump from irreversible self-inflicted wounds.”

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