Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council released the following statement:
“Today, the chief Democratic sponsor of new Iran sanctions legislation, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), relented in his effort to pass new sanctions. He announced that he and a group of his Democratic colleagues sent a letter to the President in which they pledged to vote against new sanctions prior to March 24, the target date for a political agreement with Iran.
“It is important that these Senators understand that the only hard deadline for an agreement is June 30. Imposing new sanctions before that time would be a violation of the interim agreement. However, the announcement that no Democrats will support the sanctions until late March will mean that the sanctions bill has no more than 52 votes and is highly unlikely to pass the Senate, let alone override a Presidential veto.
“This is a significant victory for those of us who have worked to support a diplomatic agreement, not a war, with Iran. We commend everyone who has worked to stop the diplomacy-killing sanctions bill: President Obama and his Administration, the United States’ European negotiating partners, presumed 2016 presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul, pro-diplomacy organizations, and the thousands of Americans – including Iranian Americans – who made calls and sent emails to their Senators urging against new sanctions.
“We also commend the efforts of members of the House and Senate who worked to stop the sanctions bill. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Christopher Murphy (D-CT) worked with their colleagues to develop a resolution aimed at giving Senators an opportunity to weigh in on the negotiations without taking actions that would undermine progress towards an agreement. Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) leaders Keith Ellison (D-MN), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and Barbara Lee (D-CA) sent a letter to the relevant committee chairs in the House and Senate urging against new sanctions at this time.
“Importantly, the CPC letter also states, ‘In the event that a final status agreement is reached, we are prepared to work with the Administration to repeal sanctions legislation in accordance with the terms of such an agreement upon stringent verification that Iran has adhered to its obligations.’ This is critical because the ability of Congress to lift sanctions, and thus uphold the U.S. side of any deal, has been thrown into question by those who have tried to pile on new Congressional sanctions in violation of the interim agreement. This has threatened to undermine U.S. negotiating leverage by diminishing our credibility to make good on our promises to lift sanctions.
“Thankfully, President Obama has demonstrated he can manage the hawks in Congress. We urge members of Congress to not just refrain from violating the agreement with new sanctions, but also to stop planning exclusively for failure through new sanctions. Instead, Congress must also plan for success by preparing for the implementation of a final agreement and eventual legislative action to lift sanctions when it is time to seal a deal.”
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