A top Senate Democrat on Tuesday argued that those urging more sanctions on Iran at a time when the United States and its international partners are close to a making a first step agreement with Iran over its nuclear program are ultimately pushing for war.
Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said, according to U.S. News and World Report, that additional sanctions now “would blow things apart”:
“If you want a war, that is the thing to do. I don’t want a war. The American people don’t want a war. We’ve had years in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is an opportunity to move in a different path, and we ought to try it.”
A bipartisan group of senators agreed on Tuesday to delay their push for more sanctions on Iran after a personal plea from President Obama, but a handful of Senate Republicans are going ahead anyway.
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) — who apparently doesn’t believe in such a thing as an Iranian moderate — this week introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill that would impose stricter penalties on Iran’s banking and oil sectors. The measure is co-sponsored by GOP senators Mitch McConnell (KY), Lindsey Graham (SC), Marco Rubio (FL), John Cornyn (TX) and Kelly Ayotte (NH).
“This proposal will give our diplomats the increased leverage they need to get a good deal at the negotiating table — a deal that peacefully brings Iran into full compliance with its international obligations,” Kirk said, according to the AP.
But the Obama administration and experts here in the United States disagree and have spoken out publicly against those pushing for more Iran sanctions now. British ambassador to the United States, Sir Peter Westmacott, piled on, arguing in an op-ed on Wednesday that “further sanctions now would only hurt negotiations and risk eroding international support for the sanctions that have brought us this far.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney last week warned that scuttling the current diplomatic path with Iran could lead to a military confrontation. “The American people do not want a march to war,” Carney said. “The American people justifiably and understandably prefer a peaceful solution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and this agreement, if it’s achieved, has the potential to do that. The alternative is military action.”
CAP experts Matt Duss and Lawrence Korb noted in a recent op-ed that a potential first step agreement currently being negotiated in Geneva will pave the way for a larger deal. “Now is the right time for a first-step agreement on Iran’s nuclear program,” they write, “which offers limited and reversible sanctions relief in return for Iranian concessions, in order to create space for a broader, more comprehensive agreement that brings Iran’s program under full international monitoring and rolls back any possibility that Iran could develop a nuclear weapon in a short period of time without being detected.”