Washington, DC – NIAC Policy Director Jamal Abdi issued the following statement opposing the Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Human Rights Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R.1905) that Congress passed and sent to the President this week:
“NIAC supports an effective approach to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, protect human rights in Iran, and support the democratic future that Iranians have aspired to for over a century.
“This bill is not that approach.
“The fact that some in Congress insist on calling this a human rights bill is a bad joke. The bill imposes collective punishment on the Iranian people by seeking to destroy the Iranian economy. Collective punishment is in itself a human rights violation. Inside Iran, human rights defenders are sounding the alarm against these measures. Ordinary Iranians are suffering by the day as food prices skyrocket and basic medicine falls in shorter supply. Iran’s middle class is being pummeled and private businesses are being squeezed out by sanctions. Iranian Americans are seeing the impact of sanctions here in the U.S. in the form of discrimination. Meanwhile, Iranian regime officials do not suffer from lack of food or medicine and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps enjoys an increasing share of economic power under a sanctions economy.
“This bill also undermines a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff. It further limits the President’s flexibility to leverage sanctions at the negotiating table by erecting new legislative and bureaucratic obstacles. We saw in the most recent round of negotiations with Iran how a U.S. inability to freeze certain sanctions prevented us from securing Iranian concessions that were put on the table regarding its 20% enrichment. This inflexibility on our side was driven by domestic politics–including pressure from Congress–not by sound national security policy.
“Congress could have taken the time since they passed their last sanctions bill to craft legislation that actually supported Iranian human rights and democracy defenders by ensuring their access to information and communication tools. They could have worked to ensure ordinary Iranians do not continue to bear the supposedly “unintended consequences” of sanctions. They could have worked on a measure aimed at supporting a diplomatic resolution to the standoff by providing the Administration greater legal and political maneuverability to leverage sanctions. Instead, Congress crafted yet another broad sanctions bill that undermines diplomacy and punishes ordinary Iranians instead of the regime.
“We support serious diplomacy on the nuclear issue, as well as on human rights, that is not compromised by domestic political posturing. We support targeted sanctions aimed squarely at perpetrators of human rights violations, not the victims of abuse. We support the leveraging of sanctions at the negotiating table to secure U.S. goals, not to obstruct them. But what we do not support is punishing ordinary Iranians and laying the groundwork for another military adventure in the Middle East that will be disastrous for both the American people and the Iranian people.”