December 9, 2013

Policy Memo: New Sanctions Would Kill the Interim Iran Nuclear Deal

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With the U.S. and partners having secured an
interim deal that would freeze and rollback Iran’s nuclear program in exchange
for modest sanctions relief, some are urging for additional sanctions that
would violate the deal. Legislating such a move–even with a six month
delay–would kill the interim deal, unravel the international coalition and
begin to collapse existing sanctions.

As David Ignatius recently pointed out, “diplomatic
history is full of interim agreements that never get into second gear. Indeed,
they often set the stage for a bloody new round of confrontation as each side
jockeys for leverage in the final negotiation.
” Congress must not
break with the agreement and restart the process of escalation that would put
the U.S. back on a path to war. Instead, Congress should ensure the President
has full authority to excercise U.S. leverage and convert existing sanctions
into a final deal that takes war and an Iranian nuclear weapon off the table.

New Sanctions Would Kill the Interim Iran Nuclear Deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif says
if Congress adopts new sanctions, even with a six-month delay, “the entire deal
is dead”:

Q: What happens if Congress imposes new
sanctions, even if they don’t go into effect for six months?

Zarif: The entire deal is dead. We do not like
to negotiate under duress. And if Congress adopts sanctions, it shows lack of
seriousness and lack of a desire to achieve a resolution on the part of the
United States. I know the domestic complications and various issues inside the
United States, but for me that is no justification. I have a parliament. My
parliament can also adopt various legislation that can go into effect if
negotiations fail. But if we start doing that, I don’t think that we will be getting
anywhere. Now we have tried to ask our members of parliament to avoid that. We
may not succeed. The U.S. government may not succeed. If we don’t try, then we
can’t expect the other side to accept that we are serious about the process. (TIME interview,

President Obama says new sanctions
would unravel existing sanctions regime:

“…the reason they’ve been effective is because
other countries had confidence that we were not imposing sanctions just for the
sake of sanctions, but we were imposing sanctions for the sake of trying to
actually get Iran to the table and resolve the issue. And if the perception
internationally was that we were not in good faith trying to resolve the issue
diplomatically, that, more than anything, would actually begin to fray the
edges of the sanctions regime.” (Saban Forum interview, 12/7/13)

White House Spokesman Jay Carney says
new sanctions, even with a 6 month delay, will undermine talks and alienate
international partners:

“If we pass sanctions now, even with a
deferred trigger which has been discussed, the Iranians, and likely our
international partners, will see us as having negotiated in bad faith. …We
believe that Congress should hold in reserve … the option of passing new
sanctions if the moment arises when Iran has failed to comply with its
agreement, and that taking that action would have a positive result.”

Senior Administration Official says
new sanctions would violate the interim deal, divide international coalition,
and give Iranian hardliners the upperhand:

“New sanctions not only would violate the terms
of the interim agreement — which temporarily freezes Iran’s nuclear programs
and modestly eases existing sanctions — but also could divide the U.S. from its
international negotiating partners across the table from Iran and give the
upper hand to Iranian hard-liners in upcoming talks.”

Support the Deal, Oppose Congressional Efforts That Could Undermine It

  • 68% of Americans oppose new sanctions according to a Hart Research/Americans United for Change poll,
    saying “Congress should closely monitor how the agreement is being implemented,
    but it should NOT take any action that would block the agreement or jeopardize
    the negotiations for a permanent settlement.
  • By a 67% to 25% margin, Americans favor
    legislators who would give the agreement and negotiators time to work before
    deciding on new sanctions
    , according to the Hart/AUC

Current and
Former National Security Officials Support the Deal

Senate Banking Committee Chairman
Johnson, Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Feinstein, and Senate Armed Services
Chairman Levin:

“If the extensive inspection and verification
system provided for in the agreement is executed faithfully, this will help to
build confidence that, at least in the short term, Iran will be unable to
pose a credible military threat to its neighbors in the region, including

Former Secretary
of State Madeleine Albright:

“An accord by which Iran would curb its nuclear
ambitions under strict and intrusive inspections program would greatly improve
the long-term security of the United States and our closest allies in the
Middle East.”

Nine former
Ambassadors to Israel and Deputy Secretaries of State:

“We are persuaded that this agreement
arrests Iran’s nuclear program for the first time in nearly a decade and opens
the possibility of ultimately stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapons
capability. More than any other option, a diplomatic breakthrough on this issue
will help ensure Israel’s security and remove the threat that a nuclear-armed
Iran would pose to the region generally and Israel specifically.”

Former National
Security Advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft:

“Additional sanctions now
against Iran with the view to extracting even more concessions in the
negotiations will risk undermining or even shutting down the negotiations. More
sanctions now as these unprecedented negotiations are just getting underway
would reconfirm Iranians in their belief that the US is not prepared to make
any agreement with the current government of Iran. We call on all
Americans and the US Congress to stand firmly with the President in the
difficult but historic negotiations with Iran.”




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