INU- Amid opening of the 114 congress, there is support for increasing sanctions on Iran in the new Republican-controlled US Congress to override veto threats by President Obama according to news reports. The Obama administration and other global powers are in negotiation with Tehran to convince the regime to give up its nuclear program. All the while, the White House has tried to make sure no law is passed in the US Congress for more sanctions so talks can continue unhindered.
This strategy has to change and the new charge is being led by Senator Marco Rubio who believes that they could have “a super-majority, a veto-proof majority, to impose additional sanctions on Iran and to require the administration to come before Congress for approval of any deal that he has with Iran.”
Would this destroy the prospects for a nuclear deal? The Senator thinks that there are no prospects for a deal and sanctions are the only way to go.
He is aided by other lawmakers, including Senators Mark Kirk and Democrat Robert Menendez, along with House Foreign Affairs Committee head Ed Royce. They all believe that Obama should embrace new sanctions. Economic hardship will force concessions in the talks.
Menendez and Kirk introduced legislation by which new sanctions would be imposed in the case that as deal does not come through over the next six months, or any further violations of the final nuclear agreement are made by Iran.
Kirk said that the Iran sanctions issue would be one of the first priorities of the new Senate, which convenes January 6 under Republican control.
Meanwhile, the United States added nine individuals and entities to its Iran sanctions blacklist. These six people and three companies were accused of helping Iran’s government obtain hundreds of millions in US currency or evade existing sanctions. These activities include the conversion of currencies into hundreds of millions of US by Iranians, Afghans, citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis and a Dubai-based trading company. Iran’s Douran Software Technologies has also been targeted for helping government censorship activities. Another firm, Abyssec, is accused of supporting Iran’s Revolutionary Guard corps in cyber tradecraft. Their economic activity with the US has been halted and their assets in the US have been frozen.
Thus there is hope that even as the Obama administration might be skirting the issue while negotiating, it is still serious about enforcing sanctions already placed.
The President has said that he would veto any new sanctions legislation while diplomats continue their push for a deal that would set multiyear limits on Iran’s nuclear progress in exchange for an easing of the international sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy. It is for this reason that republicans like Rubio are trying to cobble together a veto-proof majority of 67 votes this January.
The Democrats must also be cognizant of the fact that Iran and Western nations in late November failed for a second time in 2014 to reach a final deal. They will fail yet again, and now the Congress will make sure more sanctions can be imposed. To get a super-majority, lawmakers lobbying for sanctions will need bipartisan support. Senator Kirk is optimistic about this, “I have 17 Democrats with me. … We have a shot at even getting to a veto-proof majority in the Senate. That’s what we’ll be working on, a good bipartisan vote.”