APN to Senate: Reject Unnecessary, Dangerous New Iran Bills

Americans for Peace Now today called on U.S. Senators to refuse to support or cosponsor the two pieces of Iran legislation – S. 269 and S. 615 – that AIPAC activists will be asking them to support when they come to the Hill for their lobby day tomorrow.  Both bills are entirely unnecessary, and both risk undermining the ongoing diplomacy with the P5+1 – leaving the U.S. isolated and bringing Washington closer to the point where it will be forced to choose between a nuclear-armed Iran and another Middle East war.

APN President and CEO Debra DeLee commented: 

“Supporters of S. 269 argue that the bill – which seeks to legislate new Iran sanctions that would be triggered if no deal with Iran is reached – is necessary preparation for the possibility that talks may fail.  They argue that S. 615 – which seeks to delay implementation of a deal, legislate Congressional approval/disapproval of that deal, and impose Congressional oversight and conditions on any deal’s implementation – is necessary preparation for the possibility that talks may succeed.

“Neither argument holds up to scrutiny.  If Iran negotiations break down due to Iran’s unwillingness to agree to compromises acceptable to the P5+1, Congress can move swiftly to pass new sanctions legislation at that time.  Likewise, Congress does not need new legislation, now or in the future, to assert its right to have oversight over an Iran agreement.  Implementation of any agreement will require Congress to take action to lift sanctions; if Congress opposes an agreement, it can refuse to do so, or place conditions on any lifting of sanctions.  Should Congress so deeply oppose an agreement that it wants to block its implementation, Congress can assert its will through new sanctions and other measures.

“In short, there is no reason for the Senate to be moving either of these pieces of legislation, other than either a naive belief that more pressure from Congress can induce Iran to yield more at the negotiating table – a belief rejected not only by the Obama Administration but by its P5+1 partners, who believe that actions like these by Congress threaten diplomacy – or a reckless desire to deliberately derail negotiations and undermine the very possibility of a diplomatic solution to the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program. 

“Indeed, these bills in effect double down on the message sent resoundingly by some supporters of S. 1881 last year – a bill also lobbied by AIPAC.  That message was clear:  some in Congress and the United States favor confrontation to diplomacy and prefer armed conflict to any negotiated deal with Iran. In sending such a message, supporters of these bills are not only once again making common cause with hardliners in Tehran, but also putting themselves at odds with the majority of Americans, who do not want more war.

“Iran negotiations have already demonstrated that diplomacy can deliver results. Now, with negotiations entering their final stretch, diplomacy must be given every possible chance to produce a deal that verifiably curbs Iran's nuclear program. Should negotiations end without a deal, there is nothing preventing Congress and the Obama Administration from revisiting all the various policy responses, including additional sanctions, at that time.  Should negotiations end with a deal that Congress dislikes, Congress can then revisit its legislative options.”

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