May 26, 2017

Vote Against Iran Sanctions Bill S. 722

NIAC Action urges Senators to vote against S. 722, the ‘Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017.’ Former Obama Administration officials have warned that the legislation would violate the JCPOA. Unfortunately, these concerns were not sufficiently addressed in the Manager’s Amendment. Passage of S. 722 would therefore risk terminating the JCPOA, providing President Trump with a mandate for an escalatory Iran policy, and empowering Iranian hardliners at the expense of moderates.
Defense Intelligence Agency: Iran is not ‘more aggressive’ post JCPOA and is aiding the fight against ISIS in Iraq
  • The Defense Intelligence Agency Chief, Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, declined to describe Iran’s role in the region as more aggressive since the nuclear deal in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, cutting against the justification for the deeply flawed S. 722.
  • Lt. Gen. Stewart noted Iran’s positive contributions against ISIS in Iraq, stating Iraq’s reclamation of territory from ISIS is “due to substantial external support — most notably U.S.-led coalition airpower and support from Iran.” He also noted that Iran’s relief from the deal has primarily gone toward economic development.
World leaders and editorial boards warn against Trump’s Iran policy
  • The New York Times editorial board wrote, “Mr. Trump’s determination to forge an anti-Iran alliance with the Sunni Arab states and isolate Iran could drift into military confrontation. The nuclear agreement negotiated between Iran and the United States could unravel, causing a split with America’s European allies.”
  • The Elders – an independent group of global leaders including former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan – issued a statement following President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia warning that “inflammatory rhetoric towards Iran can aggravate sectarianism and fuel current and future wars,” urging all parties to exercise restraint.
  • Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, in unexpected pushback to Trump’s visit, stated “There is no wisdom in harboring hostility toward Iran.”
  • Federica Mogherini, the EU’s top diplomat, contrasted Trump’s bellicose rhetoric on Iran by being the first world leader to congratulate President Rouhani and expressed the E.U.’s intention to increase bilateral engagement including on regional security.
Designating the IRGC a terror group would target ordinary Iranians due to mandatory conscription and risk confrontation
  • Section 5 of S. 722 would result in the entire IRGC being labeled a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT).” 
  • Given Iran’s compulsory conscription, the average Iranian man has no choice over whether he is drafted into the group, raising concerns about the implications of designating the entire military service under a terror designation.
The Senate bill prioritizes confronting Iran across the region. However, few Americans view Iran as a top strategic priority.
  • According to a Politico poll this week, the American public does not view confronting Iran as an urgent priority for U.S. policy.  Just 12% of Democrats believe President Trump should prioritize building a coalition to challenge Iran, while only 36% of Republicans identify Iran as a top strategic priority for the United States.
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