Negotiations with Iran are set to resume in Geneva on January 18, and with a new deadline for an agreement looming, returning lawmakers are poised to make a move toward additional sanctions. Republicans may choose to hold off until signs of a breakdown in negotiations have surfaced, but others have suggested that a bill could move more quickly. On the Sunday before Congress reconvened for the new year, Sen. Corker said that a bill would be expected to move through “regular order” in the banking committee, but did not imply that would happen immediately. His answer when asked about timing was, “we’ll see.” But Sen. Graham has suggested that a bill will be taken up in January.
Negotiations with Iran are set to resume in Geneva on January 18, and with a new deadline for an agreement looming, returning lawmakers are poised to make a move toward additional sanctions. Republicans may choose to hold off until signs of a breakdown in negotiations have surfaced, but others have suggested that a bill could move more quickly.
Now is Not the Time for New Iran Sanctions By Colonel Richard L. Klass (USA, Ret.) Some Senate Republicans are promising that one of their first orders of business this month as the chamber’s leaders will be a vote on a new Iran sanctions bill while the U.S. and the other nations continue to make […]
The US and its allies are meeting with Iran this week to begin to sketch out the terms of a final deal. The five-day meeting in Vienna, Austria will be the longest since November, and could begin to shed light on potential solutions to some of the most contentious issues still left to decide.
Since the implementation of the interim deal in January, Iran has halted the most sensitive aspects of its nuclear program, reduced its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium, and shown willingness to compromise on issues such as plutonium output at Iran’s heavy water reactor Arak. These steps combined with positive statements from the European Union’s Catherine Ashton and Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has some hopeful that a deal might just around the corner. But with many more issues left to resolve, onlookers should restrain their “irrational exuberance” and not be surprised to see a six month extension of the talks come July.
Andrew Szarejko has a rundown of proposals for a final deal here. Some of the most complicated issues include Iran’s ongoing research and development, both on nuclear centrifuges and ballistic missile technology and the duration and timeline of both sanctions relief and ongoing restrictions on Iran.
But if and when a deal is struck, there will be heavy lifting ahead back home.
The Obama administration will be faced with the task of convincing Congress to roll back sanctions, and hardliners in Iran will oppose almost any deal that is seen as a compromise with the United States.
But there are some signs that Congress, at least, is beginning to come around to the idea of a deal. Make no mistake, even the best deal will be a tough sell on Capitol Hill, and some will continue to oppose anything short of Iran’s complete capitulation. (If you need a refresher on why that’s a stupid idea, Colin Kahl does a great job of explaining it here.) But while just a year ago, nearly any vote coming down hard on Iran would have enjoyed substantial majority support in both houses of Congress, a recent vote in the House Armed Services Committee showed a split in U.S. hardliners’ ranks.
The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) offered by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) expresses a nonbinding “sense of Congress” that sanctions should not be lifted unless the deal includes the complete dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear program and an end to the country’s state sponsorship of terrorism. But such ideas, which once sounded attractive to a less-informed Congress, are now largely understood to be a poison pill.
Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), the ranking Democrat on the committee, spoke out strongly against the amendment.
“This is a very bad idea,” said Smith. “It completely ties the hands of our negotiators … by setting out very specific criteria that have to be met before a deal can be achieved, going well beyond the nuclear question.”
Such talk would have been political suicide just a year ago, but Democrats have largely coalesced around the President’s position, and they’ve brought some Republicans along with them.
Though the amendment ultimately passed by voice vote, the panel was clearly split.
With a rising chorus of champions and divisions on Capitol Hill, Congressional sanctions relief, once considered impossible, may now be the best course for enforcement of an eventual deal – as opposed to depending on the Obama administration’s limited (and temporary) ability to waive sanctions.
This week, OtherWords published a piece I wrote alongside Lt. General (USA, Ret) Robert Gard on the Obama administration’s “strategic patience” policy toward North Korea. Here is an excerpt:
It’s time to put North Korea back on the foreign policy agenda and re-engage it in serious and responsible negotiations.
Given Chinese support for North Korea, heavy sanctions won’t compel Kim Jong Un to comply with American preferences or engage in negotiations on dictated terms. However much the United States may detest the authoritarian North Korean regime, it’s in America’s interest to engage in a dialogue to protect its national security and that of its Asian allies.
Refusing to negotiate with the North Koreans unless they make concessions dictated by Washington is counterproductive. Watchful waiting simply results in further advances in the North Korean nuclear weapons program, making America and its allies less secure. Kim Jong Un is willing to talk, and it’s in America’s interest to pick up the phone and call him.
Read the full piece here.