Statement: APN Condemns New Iran Sanctions Bill in Senate

APN today issued the following statement on the introduction of new Iran sanctions legislation in the Senate on Thursday:

"We condemn in the strongest terms the introduction of new Iran sanctions legislation in the Senate (S. 1881) by Senators Menendez (D-NJ), Kirk (R-IL) and a 25 of their colleagues.  We urge Senate leaders to refuse to move this ill-timed and highly problematic legislation forward.  We likewise call on Senators from both parties to refuse to cosponsor it, and Senators who have already done so to recognize their error and retract their sponsorship.   

"We welcome the White House's warning that President Obama would veto this legislation, if passed.  We agree with the ten Senate committee leaders - including Senators Feinstein (D-CA), Levin (D-MI) and Boxer (D-CA), who wrote this week to Senate Majority leader Reid (D-NV), stating that, at this time, 'we believe that new sanctions only play into the hands of those in Iran who are most eager for negotiations to fail.'

"Indeed, the mere act of introducing new Iran sanctions legislation at this juncture represents, in and of itself, a reckless, provocative and wholly gratuitous step.  The Geneva interim agreement demonstrates that sincere, determined diplomacy can deliver results.   Now is the time to give such diplomacy a fighting chance to test whether this interim agreement can lead to a final accord that verifiably curbs Iran's nuclear program.  Should Iran demonstrate that it is insincere about achieving such an accord, there is nothing preventing Congress and the Obama Administration from revisiting all its various policy responses, including additional sanctions, at that time.

"If the timing of its introduction were no bad enough, this new sanctions effort appears designed to undermine the initiative launched last month in Geneva and, bafflingly, to undermine international cooperation on Iran.  It discredits diplomacy, isolates and weakens U.S. negotiators, and reinforces the impression that, for some members of Congress (and some outside groups), the goal has never really been policy change in Iran, but regime change.  In doing so, it risks eroding the carefully constructed international consensus that is vital to the existing Iran sanctions regime - a regime that remains in place today, and is set to remain in place unless and until a final accord is reached. If this effort proceeds, it risks pushing the Iranian regime to decide that obtaining a nuclear weapon is necessary for deterrence and regime survival - a decision that U.S. intelligence believes it has not made thus far. 

"It also sends a message, intended or not, that some people, both inside and outside Congress, may favor war over any realistic negotiated solution, regardless of its terms.  This, despite the fact that such a war is more likely to ensure, rather than prevent, a nuclear-armed Iran and could have far-reaching negative consequences for the region and the world. In sending such a message, these people are making common cause with hardliners in Tehran, who similarly prefer confrontation to negotiations and compromise; however, they are putting themselves at odds with the majority of Americans, who do not want more war.

"Anyone who cares about U.S. interests in the region, including Israeli security and a stable Middle East, should be outraged by this effort. For the first time in decades, a potential perfect storm of political factors has produced an historic and promising diplomatic engagement with Iran, and the entire world is focused on the importance of resolving concerns about Iran's nuclear program and nuclear ambitions.  Now is the time for members of the House and Senate to stand up to outside pressure, foreswear partisan and political grandstanding, and get behind the efforts of the Obama Administration and the international community to achieve a negotiated final agreement that does just that."