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03/03/15

NIAC Urges Senate Against Harmful New Iran Legislation

Press Release by National Iranian American Council (NIAC)


cartoon by Mohsen Zarifian

Washington, DC - The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) released the following statement regarding new legislation, S.615 - the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, introduced by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Robert Menendez (D-NJ):

NIAC has serious concerns with this legislation and urges lawmakers to refrain from signing onto this bill. 

Under this legislation, Congress would delay the implementation of any nuclear deal reached with Iran while deciding whether to permanently remove the President's powers to execute a deal. By signaling that the U.S. may fail to meet its commitments should a nuclear deal be reached, this bill risks snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and throwing a curveball into the ongoing negotiations. 

Lawmakers should think carefully about the implications of their actions and the danger of upending the recent progress in negotiations, scuttling a nuclear deal at hand, and isolating the United States on the international stage. By disrupting the negotiations or killing a nuclear deal, Congress threatens to position Iran to break free from both the nuclear constraints an agreement would have imposed, as well as from the international sanctions that require the cooperation of America's closest allies.  

Moreover, this bill contains poison pills that could cause the U.S. to violate a deal after it takes effect. It would require the President to make certifications as to Iran's behavior that go beyond the scope of any nuclear deal. If the President fails to make these certifications, then an expedited process is set up for Congress to re-impose all the sanctions on Iran. By including non-nuclear issues in the bill, Congress threatens to undo an agreement that constrains Iran's nuclear program and ensures Iran remains a non-nuclear weapons state.

Instead of hindering U.S. negotiators, Congress should be considering how to help them. Demanding an immediate vote on any deal, however, will cast serious doubt not just with Iran's negotiators, but also with our allies that the United States will be able to deliver its end of any bargain struck in the nuclear talks.

As the State Department has made clear, this bill would undermine U.S. negotiating leverage. It is for this reason that the President has threatened to veto the legislation. Instead of undercutting our negotiators, Congress should give our diplomats a chance to succeed and hold its fire until it has the opportunity to see a nuclear deal and evaluate that deal on its merits.

Lawmakers have many tools at their disposal to ensure appropriate oversight over a nuclear deal with Iran. Undermining ongoing negotiations, risking a nuclear deal, and diminishing the credibility of the United States are, however, a poor way to do this. Legislators who prefer a peaceful resolution to the nuclear dispute should consider alternative mechanisms to oversee a nuclear deal and think twice about signing onto a bill that hands-off to Congressional hawks the ability to kill a deal and bring us back to the brink of war. 


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