December 2, 2014

Congress Must Strengthen Iran Sanctions

At the beginning of this year, President Obama promised the American people in his State of the Union address that he would be “the first to call for more sanctions” if Iran failed to complete an agreement on its illicit nuclear program. Instead, he has once again extended relief from certain sanctions. It is time for President Obama to implement his own stated policy.

Never-ending negotiations over Iran’s illicit nuclear program

Never-ending negotiations over Iran’s illicit nuclear program

Extension breaks the president’s promises

This latest extension of sanctions relief for Iran violates the president’s promises to the American people. First, he said the sanctions relief provided to Iran would be “limited” and “temporary.” With the extension, that relief appears to have become limitless and permanent.

Second, in announcing this framework last year, President Obama said that if Iran did not seize the opportunity given to it, Iran would “face growing pressure.” He reiterated this position in the State of the Union address last January.

Congress must act to increase sanctions on Iran

President Obama admitted as recently as November 5 that the sanctions regime brought Iran to the negotiating table over its nuclear program. Increased sanctions will only make a favorable final agreement more likely. Sanctions relief has certainly failed to produce one.

Now is the time for President Obama to implement his own stated policy: that he would be the first to call for more sanctions if Iran rejected the diplomatic overtures offered it. He should call on Congress to send him a bill imposing increased sanctions on Iran before departing for the year, and Congress should deliver it. Barring that, it should be an early order of business for the next Congress in January.

President Obama has taken enough time trying to talk Iran out of its illicit nuclear program. After six years, it is clear that Iran has no interest in seizing the opportunity given to it. The president has extended his hand many times to Iran, including writing to the country’s Supreme Leader privately no less than four times. Instead of breaking yet another promise to the American people, President Obama should respond appropriately to Iran’s clenched fist and work with Congress to increase sanctions.

Issue Tag: National Security