Top Republican lawmakers suggested on Sunday that Congress should move to impose new sanctions on Iran despite the historic agreement reached in Geneva between the U.S., its international partners and the Islamic Republic over Iran’s nuclear program.
According to the White House, in exchange for a freeze and roll back of Iran’s program, the P5+1 — the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Russia, China and Germany — have agreed to release a modest amount of sanctions. As part of the deal, the P5+1 has committed to “[n]ot impose new nuclear-related sanctions for six months, if Iran abides by its commitments under this deal, to the extent permissible within their political systems.”
But it appears that some Republicans — skeptical and critical of the agreement — might move to break those particular terms. While some, like Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), have suggested that they’ll wait at least six months before going forward, others said Congress should act on new sanctions now. “Instead of easing them, now is the time to tighten those sanctions and let’s get a long term deal to prevent them from developing a weapon,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) said on ABC’s This Week. “It may be that we have to pass a resolution that put sanctions on effective 3 months, 4 months, 6 months, whatever it might be. But now is just not the time to ease sanctions when they’re working.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) echoed Chambliss on Fox News Sunday. “I think there are going to be some people that want to impose additional sanctions,” he said. “That’s another effort that we may well take part in. But again, I just want to see this all the way through.”
And House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said on CBS’s Face the Nation that “we should move forward with the sanctions in the Senate.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told NBC News that piling on more sanctions would kill the agreement. “If there are new sanctions, then there is no deal. It’s very clear. End of the deal. Because of the inability of one party to maintain their side of the bargain,” he said. “What I hope is important is that we will all work to a final resolution of this issue. Now we are just taking a first step, the difficult work is ahead of us.”
The Obama administration and its allies successfully lobbied Congress in recent weeks to hold off on passing a new round of sanctions, arguing that they would shatter the international coalition and scuttle hopes of reaching a deal.
Now that a first step deal has been reached, the administration is continuing its campaign. In remarks on Saturday shortly after the agreement was announced, President Obama urged Congress against imposing new sanctions on Iran while the six-month first step deal takes effect. “[N]ow is not the time to move forward on new sanctions,” he said, “doing so would derail this promising first step, alienate us from our allies, and risk unraveling the coalition that enabled our sanctions to be enforced in the first place.”
In a statement, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he was “disappointed by the terms of the agreement” and added that the deal “makes it more likely that Democrats and Republicans will join together and pass additional sanctions when we return in December.”