A Democratic senator said on Monday that any effort in Congress to impose new sanctions on Iran after the first-phase deal was reached last month and while world powers negotiate with the Islamic Republic on a final agreement will erode confidence with the Iranians and empower hard-liners in Tehran.
“What this is really about is about engaging in some confidence-building,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said on MSNBC, referring to the Nov. 24 deal reached between the P5+1 and Iran in Geneva. “And the problem with the Senate and the House potentially stepping in and putting forth a new round of sanctions is that it starts to nibble away, eat away at that confidence, which has been sorely missing.”
The White House has repeatedly asked Congress to hold off on new sanctions. But a bipartisan group of senators, led by Sens. Robert Menendez (R-NJ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Bob Corker (R-TN), is moving forward despite the fact that passing additional sanctions would most likely violate the terms of the Geneva deal.
“What we would risk doing here in implementing a new round of sanctions is not just screwing up the negotiation, but sending a message to the Iranian people — who are frankly way more pro-American than people might think — that we aren’t really serious about ultimately doing the deal they want,” Murphy said. “The hard-liners are isolated right now in Iran, and we are, frankly, going to empower them if we show up with the table in the middle of these short-term negotiations with a new round of sanctions that even though they may take place in the future.
“This is about building confidence with the negotiators on the Iranian side but also the Iranian people,” he said. Watch the clip:
The senators’ efforts to insert themselves in the negotiating process with Iran is not only out of step with many of their congressional colleagues, but also with the American people. Numerous polls show that Americans overwhelmingly support the deal with Iran reached last month. And a new poll released this week found that 68 percent want to see Congress “closely monitor” the process without taking “any action that would block the agreement.”
“Keep in mind, this Congress is on track to be the least productive Congress ever. It needs to reach deals on food stamps and a farm bill and arrive at a budget deal by January 15th in order to avoid another government shutdown,” host Chris Hayes noted before his interview with Murphy. “And yet, the one thing it looks like they will get together on is sabotaging the most promising chance at a peaceful deal with Iran we’ve had in 30-plus years.”