America Must Keep the Upper Hand with Iran
Recently the U.S. House of Representatives took up and overwhelmingly passed the Iran Sanctions Extension Act, which reauthorizes for another ten years the economic penalties the United States has used to deter the Islamic Republic of Iran from further developing its unconventional weapons program, including ballistic missiles and supporting terrorism.
Originally enacted in 1996, these sanctions have been some of the most meaningful tools in bringing Iran and its ambitious weapons program to heel. Extending them for another ten years is the right decision, and I was proud to vote in favor of the bill’s passage.
Also last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan sent a letter to President Obama urging him to abandon any plans for new concessions to Iran during his final days in office. The letter asked that President Obama “take no further actions designed to bolster international investment in Iran, or otherwise change or alter the existing sanctions regime within international organizations through the use of waivers or through administrative actions…”
The House vote and Speaker Ryan’s letter comes amid reports that the Obama Administration plans to take additional steps to aide Iran’s economy in attempt to save the president’s legacy nuclear agreement.
You may remember that last year, despite significant opposition from Republicans and Democrats alike in Congress, President Obama negotiated an executive nuclear agreement with Iran. I said at the time that the executive agreement was a bad deal because negotiators failed to achieve their very own stated objectives on inspections, verifications, and sanctions. Then in January, the Administration released a $1.7 billion payment to Iran coinciding with the release of five Americans held prisoner by Iran, in violation of longstanding U.S. policy meant to protect our national security interests.
I’m afraid the Obama Administration’s baffling behavior toward Iran is weakening what was once a very strong hand in dealing with this rouge nation. However, since President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal is an executive agreement and not a treaty, it is subject for review in the next presidential administration. President-elect Donald Trump said repeatedly throughout his campaign that he believes the Obama Administration negotiated badly, and he strongly suggested that he will pull the U.S. out of the nuclear agreement. Like everyone else who has been engaged in this issue, I am eager to see how President-elect Trump deals with the situation. My colleagues and I in Congress certainly stand willing to support policies that strengthen our hand towards Iran, as evidenced by the overwhelming bi-partisan vote in favor of the Iran Sanctions Extension Act (ISA).
Of course, this is just one of many decisions facing President-elect Trump and his incoming administration as the transition of executive power moves forward. I hope you’ll join me in praying for wisdom and guidance for the president-elect and all those who advise him at this time of great consequence for our country.