Tuesday, 31 May 2016
A pair of Democratic senators is pushing to extend sanctions on Iran until President Obama can guarantee its nuclear material is for peaceful purposes.
Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine (Va.) and Chris Murphy (Conn.) have introduced legislation that would extend the Iran Sanctions Act, currently set to expire at the end of the year, "in order to effectuate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in guaranteeing that all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities."
Under their proposal, the sanctions would be lifted when the president is able to certify to Congress that the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) director general "has reached a broader conclusion ... that all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities."
The United States, Iran and five other countries implemented the deal earlier this year, with Iran agreeing to limits on its program in exchange for relief from financial sanctions.
Both Kaine and Murphy support the Iran nuclear agreement.
The Kaine-Murphy legislation doesn't specify when the president would be able to make that certification, but it could set up the sanctions law to be lifted on the deal's "transition day."
"Transition day" will occur eight years after the deal was adopted, or "upon a report from the director general of the IAEA ... stating that the IAEA has reached the broader conclusion that all nuclear materials in Iran remains in peaceful activities, whichever is earlier," according to the European Union's outline of the deal's implementation plan.
Amy Dudley, a spokeswoman for Kaine, said that under the Kaine-Murphy legislation "[if] Iran breaks the terms of the deal and the President is unable to make this certification, ISA is extended in an open-ended manner. This is to prevent a non-compliant Iran having a sanctions expiration date in its sights."
The legislation comes as lawmakers have pledged to extend the sanctions law but failed to build momentum behind one proposal. Supporters of an extension argue it's needed so sanctions can be "snapped back" if Iran violates the deal.
Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) introduced legislation last year that would extend the sanctions law for 10 years.
Meanwhile, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), backed by 18 other GOP senators, introduced a separate a bill to extend the law through 2031 and require new sanctions tied to Iran's ballistic missile program.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has suggested Democrats will back an extension of the sanctions law, but told reporters last month that he was skeptical of Ayotte's legislation.
"I reviewed it awhile ago and felt it was not where we needed to be," he said. "[But] there is general consensus ... among the Democratic and Republican members of the House and Senate that the Iran Sanctions Act should be extended."
Cardin and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) have been working on Iran sanctions legislation for months, which is expected to include an extension of the Iran Sanctions Act.