Policy Memo: New Senate Bills Concerning Iran Nuclear Negotiations

In the last week of July, three separate pieces of legislation were introduced in the Senate that, if passed, would have a significant impact on nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Each of the bills was introduced and co-sponsored exclusively by Republicans, and there is little expectation the partisan bills will move forward in their current form. However, each bill hints at possible future efforts in September to add Iran-related amendments to other legislation, as well as future legislative measures should a deal be reached in the P5+1 and Iran negotiations. Moreover, shifts in the Senate — thanks to the upcoming November elections — could make these bills more viable down the road. 

The prime motive of these legislative proposals is to erode the President’s authority to carry out US obligations to Iran under either the current framework agreement or under a final nuclear deal. Each of these bills would limit, remove, or override the President’s authority to waive specific sanctions on Iran. Below, the major provisions of each bill are enumerated.

S.2650: Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act of 2014 – Sen. Corker (R-TN)

The “Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act of 2014” would require that any nuclear agreement between the US and Iran be presented within three days to Congress, where consideration of a Joint Resolution of Disapproval would enjoy expedited procedures. If the resolution was then passed or if the deal was not presented to Congress within the required time frame, any funding for the State Department to implement the agreement would be prohibited. Moreover, if no nuclear agreement is secured by November 24 or if Iran violates a final agreement, any sanctions waived by the President to implement the agreement would be automatically reinstated.

The bill:

  • Requires the President to submit to Congress the text of an agreement relating to Iran’s nuclear program within a 3-calendar day period after entering into the agreement
    • Both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee could then hold hearings or briefings related to the agreement for a 15-day period starting when the President submits the agreement to Congress
    • Following this 15-day period, a Joint Resolution of Disapproval may be introduced in the Senate and House under expedited procedures
  • Prohibits authorized State Department funds to be expended to implement an agreement relating to Iran’s nuclear program, if:
    • President fails to submit an agreement relating to Iran’s nuclear program within 3-days, or
    • Joint Resolution of Disapproval is enacted into law
  • Provides that if U.S. intelligence community receives information from any person, including foreign governments and foreign intelligence services, that Iran has failed to comply with any agreement relating to Iran’s nuclear program, or has refused to cooperate with the IAEA, then Director of National Intelligence shall determine whether information is credible and accurate within 10 calendar days and submit determination to appropriate congressional committees
    • If information is deemed credible and accurate, then any sanctions that have been waived, suspended, or otherwise relieved shall be reinstated 5 days after the determination
  • Provides that any sanctions that have been waived, suspended, or otherwise relieved shall be reinstated on November 28, 2014, unless the President:
    • Submits to Congress an agreement relating to Iran’s nuclear program, and
    • Certifies to the appropriate congressional committees that the agreement is comprehensive and long-term (i.e., significantly longer than any previous nuclear-related agreement between US and Iran)

S. 2667: Iranian Sanctions Relief Certification Act of 2014 – Sen. Kirk (R-IL)

Under the current framework agreement, which has been extended to last until November 24, 2014, certain sanctions have been temporarily waived by the President in exchange for Iran’s freezing and rolling back of its nuclear program. The “Iranian Sanctions Relief Certification Act of 2014” would prevent the President from continuing to waive those sanctions unless the President certifies that Iran will not use any resultant funds to advance a nuclear weapons program, support terrorism, or commit human rights abuses.

The bill:

  • Prohibits the President from exercising sanctions waivers in connection with the Extended Joint Plan of Action as to specific provisions, unless the President certifies to Congress on a specified schedule that any funds made available to Iran as a result of sanctions relief will not be used to:
    • Provide support for persons or entities designated under Executive Order for international terrorism, any designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, or any other terrorist organization;
    • Advance the efforts of Iran or any other country to develop nuclear weapons of ballistic missiles overtly or covertly; or
    • Commit any violation of the human rights of the Iranian people

S. 2672: Sanction Iran, Secure America – Sen. Cruz (R-TX)

The “Sanction Iran, Secure America” bill seeks to limit the President’s ability to implement any sanctions relief under a final deal by terminating existing legal authorities for the President to waive certain sanctions and codifying sanctions previously imposed by Executive Order.

The bill:

  • Terminates all sanctions waivers granted Iran under the Joint Plan of Action and the Extended Joint Plan of Action (as well as Section 104 of CISADA), and eliminates the President’s waiver authorities for future use
  • Codifies financial sanctions on persons that facilitate a significant financial transaction for the purchase of petroleum or petroleum products from Iran or petrochemical products from Iran, and imposes sanctions on persons who engage in a significant transaction for such
  • Codifies IEEPA-based sanctions on persons that provide financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, the National Iranian Oil Company, the Naftiran Intertrade Company, or Iran’s Central Bank
  • Codifies IEEPA-based sanctions on persons that provide financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, the purchase or acquisition of US bank notes or precious metals by the Government of Iran
  • Codifies IEEPA-based sanctions on persons that provide financial, material or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, any:
    • Iranian person included on SDN List (excluding Iranian depositary institutions blocked solely pursuant to EO 13599), and
    • Any person included on SDN list whose property is blocked pursuant to above or EO 13599 (excluding Iranian depositary institutions blocked solely pursuant to EO 13599),
      • Fails to provide waiver authorities for the President as to the provision (EO 13645)
  • Codifies sanctions on persons that engaged in a significant financial transaction for the sale or transfer to Iran of significant goods or services used in connection with Iran’s automotive sector, and imposes financial sanctions on foreign financial institutions that facilitate a significant financial transaction for the sale or transfer to Iran of significant goods or services used in connection with Iran’s automotive sector, and fails to provide waiver authorities for the President as to both provisions
  • Revises the Federal Acquisition Regulation by requiring certifications from each person that is part of a foreign country’s automotive sector and is a prospective contractor, showing that the person has neither conducted a transaction with an Iranian person or entity within the previous 90 days nor has a business relationship with the Government of Iran
    • If person is found to have submitted a false certification, head of an executive agency shall terminate contract with person and suspend them from eligibility for federal contracts for at least 2 years
  • Revises Section 1245 of 2012 NDAA so that it no longer permits countries to import unlimited amounts or Iranian condensates if they have been granted an exception to import limited amounts of Iranian crude oil
  • Imposes IEEPA-based sanctions on persons that provide financial, material, technological, or other support for, or goods or services in support of:
    • Any activity or transaction which would contribute to or pose a risk of contributing to WMD proliferation or the means of delivery of such weapons by any person or country the President identifies as being of proliferation concern
    • Any person who has been designated for sanctions pursuant to EO 13382
  • Prohibits authorized funds from being expended to participate in negotiations with Iran until Congress enacts a joint resolution certifying a host of things, including:
    • Iran has freed all US prisoners of conscience held in Iranian jails
    • Treasury no longer finds Iran’s Central Bank to be a primary money laundering concern
    • Iran has dismantled its entire nuclear program, including all centrifuges, and does not have ballistic missiles with a range over 300 km and a payload of more than 500 kg; and
    • Iran has renounced state-sponsored terrorism and acknowledges its role and accepts legal responsibility for the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, the bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, and the bombing of the Khobar Tower

About Author

Tyler CullisTyler CullisTyler Cullis joined NIAC in March 2014 as a Policy Associate. In this position, he provides legislative and advocacy outreach, research and writing, and legal analysis. Tyler is a recent law graduate of the Boston University School of Law, where he specialized in the U.S. sanctions on Iran and the Iran nuclear issue. Tyler tweets at @TylerCullis.
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Jamal AbdiJamal AbdiJamal Abdi joined the National Iranian American Council as Policy Director in November 2009, directing NIAC’s efforts to monitor policies and legislation, and to educate and advocate on behalf of the Iranian-American community. Abdi joined NIAC’s team following his work in the US Congress as Policy Advisor to Representative Brian Baird (D-WA). Jamal tweets at @jabdi.
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