The Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act, just filed in the U.S. Senate, puts chamber GOP members in an awkward position.
The measure would enforce the interim nuclear agreement announced with Iran, meaning Republicans are in essence giving their blessing to the preliminary agreement — which they’ve heavily criticized — by sanctioning it with the force of legislation.
The bill essentially codifies the interim agreement announced with Iran last month, at first giving the president an initial six months to ease economic sanctions while negotiating a comprehensive deal, then allowing the president additional flexibility to have up to a year to negotiate with Iran while sanctions were eased.
A bipartisan group of 26 senators unveiled the Iran-sanctions legislation on Thursday, despite President Obama repeatedly asking the Senate to hold off further action while Secretary of State John Kerry negotiates with Tehran’s leadership.
The move is the latest sign of a growing wedge between Senate Democrats and the White House on Iran. The administration has said that even the introduction of a sanctions bill threatens to undermine the negotiations.
Under the legislation, if Iran failed to follow the interim agreement — which lays out restrictions on uranium enrichment and centrifuge production — sanctions would go back into effect. Sanctions would also be reapplied if Iran initiated an act of aggression, such as committing a terrorist attack against the U.S. And if Iran fails to reach a final deal, sanctions would also go back into affect.
By Thursday afternoon the bill, led by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), had amassed more than a quarter of the chamber as sponsors.
The bill would require Iran to strictly adhere to a preliminary agreement reached with the U.S. and other world leaders in November. The legislation requires further reductions in purchases of Iranian petroleum and applies additional penalties to strategic elements of the Iranian economy, to include the engineering, mining, and construction sectors.
“Current sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table and a credible threat of future sanctions will require Iran to cooperate and act in good faith at the negotiating table,” Menendez said in a press release. “The Iranians last week blamed the administration for enforcing sanctions; now, they criticize Congress. The burden rests with Iran to negotiate in good faith and verifiably terminate its nuclear-weapons program. Prospective sanctions will influence Iran’s calculus and accelerate that process toward achieving a meaningful diplomatic resolution.”
Kirk added, “The American people rightfully distrust Iran’s true intentions and they deserve an insurance policy to defend against Iranian deception during negotiations. … This is a responsible, bipartisan bill to protect the American people from Iranian deception and I urge the majority leader to give the American people an up or down vote.”
The legislation is cosponsored by Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.
What We're Following See More »
Debbie Wasserman Schultz has given up her last remaining duty at this week's convention. Now, she's told her hometown newspaper, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, that she will not gavel in the convention today. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will do the honors instead. "I have decided that in the interest of making sure that we can start the Democratic convention on a high note that I am not going to gavel in the convention," Wasserman Schultz said.
Perhaps this talk of unity has been overstated. Addressing a room full of his supporters today, Bernie Sanders heard "sustained boos" when he said he said it was essential that we elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.
The FBI this morning issued a statement saying it is "investigating a cyber intrusion involving the DNC," adding that "a compromise of this nature is something we take very seriously." Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's campaign is suggesting that the hack "was committed by Russia to benefit Donald Trump."
A group of delegates loyal to Bernie Sanders is actively exploring how to challenge Tim Kaine's nomination for the vice presidency. A lead of the group "said he hoped the Democratic National Committee releases information within hours on how to submit a challenger to Kaine, which he said would require the signatures of 300 delegates. He said they have until Wednesday morning to file a challenge to Kaine and stressed that while his group would take any requests from the Sanders campaign under consideration, the delegate group is an independent organization."
Here are some more numbers out of Utah that should frighten Donald Trump—and give hope to Gary Johnson. "An internal poll conducted for Rep. Mia Love two weeks ago found Trump at 29 percent, Clinton at 27 percent" and Libertarian candidate Johnson at 26 percent. "That was, however, before Trump picked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence." Utah party chairman James Evans said that move ought to clinch the state for Trump. "Utahns are going to come through because the level of distaste for Hillary is so deep," he said.