Fact Check: New Iran Sanctions Bill is a Vote for Diplomacy over WarBy TheTower.org Staff. www.thetower.org, January 8, 2014
Earlier today, the pro-Iran lobby NIAC (National American Iranian Council) issued a misleading policy memo containing a number of false statements about the bipartisan Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, currently cosponsored by more than half of the U.S. Senate. Get the facts here.
NIAC Myth #1: The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 violates the terms of the first phase nuclear agreement by imposing new sanctions on Iran.
Fact Check: The legislation does not violate the Joint Plan of Action; to the contrary, the legislation supports our diplomacy, enforces the Joint Plan of Action, and codifies the Obama Administration and Iran's own commitments under the agreement. As long as Iran negotiates in good faith during the months ahead, no new nuclear-related sanctions will be imposed. The President and Secretary Kerry have repeatedly said the United States would reimpose sanctions on Iran should Iran violate the terms of the interim agreement or fail to reach a final agreement within the discernible time frame. That is exactly what The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act says and would do.
NIAC Myth #2: The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 blocks a final deal by dictating insurmountable demands, including zero-enrichment.
Fact Check: The legislation establishes minimum standards for a final nuclear agreement in order to preclude Iran from developing nuclear weapons. If NIAC is opposed to the minimum standards for a final agreement in the bill, NIAC is opposed to: 1) precluding Iran from developing nuclear weapons; 2) requiring strict international inspections of all suspect Iranian facilities; and 3) bringing Iran into compliance with UN Security Council resolutions. NIAC's position is extreme. If the P5+1 fails to meet these basic minimum standards in any final agreement with Iran, the world would be left with a dangerous and untenable circumstance that enables Iran to build nuclear weapons any moment it chooses – making war and the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East more likely, not less.
NIAC Myth #3: The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 removes the President's authority to lift sanctions.
Fact Check: Exactly the opposite is true. Without the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, the President has no authority to suspend statutory sanctions other than by exercising the four to six-month national security waivers provided in the underlying sanctions laws. Under current law, the President can only lift sanctions if Iran dismantles its entire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons infrastructure, halts and dismantles its ballistic missile programs and halts its sponsorship of terrorism. This legislation allows the President to bypass current law and suspend certain sanctions under a final nuclear agreement.
NIAC Myth #4: The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 weakens presidential waiver authority for U.S. allies and risks unraveling multilateral sanctions.
Fact Check: To the contrary, this legislation is critical to keeping the international sanctions regime intact. For the first time in years, due to the sanctions relief provided in the interim agreement, the global market psychology regarding sanctions has shifted from an expectation of ever-increasing sanctions to an expectation of further sanctions relief. Without legislation making it clear that sanctions will return if Iran violates the interim agreement or fails to reach a final deal, international firms will race to re-enter the Iranian market and further stabilize the Iranian economy. In effect, the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act will save the international sanctions coalition, not fracture it. This tired NIAC argument against sanctions has been trotted out time and again to oppose past congressional sanctions legislation, including the current sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran. In the end, these arguments have proven totally false time and again. International firms with business interests in the United States will never risk their access to America's $16 trillion economy to preserve limited trade opportunities with Iran's $550 billion economy.
NIAC Myth #5: The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 pledge U.S. military support for an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear program.
Fact Check: The legislation does not in any way, directly or indirectly, authorize the use of force. Section 405 of the bill explicitly states that nothing in the legislation may be construed as an authorization for the use of force. What's more, the non-binding language in the bill expressing the "sense of Congress" regarding the danger of Iran's nuclear program and American support for Israel already passed the Senate 99-0 on May 22, 2013 in Senate Resolution 65. Yes, you read that correctly.
NIAC Myth #6: The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 empowers Iranian hardliners committed to blocking a nuclear deal and any progress on Iranian human rights.
Fact Check: In a country where the only decision-maker is the Supreme Leader, this concept of hardliners versus others is without merit. In fact, the argument itself is a deceitful attempt to suggest that, for instance, the current President of Iran, someone who has been linked to terrorism, assassination, repression, human rights abuses, and bragged of deceiving the West by dragging out nuclear negotiations, is actually some kind of "moderate" actor, a concept which in the context of the regime in Tehran has no meaning. With regard to human rights, the legislation urges the President to continue imposing sanctions against the Iranian regime for its abuse of Iranian human rights. Iranian leaders know that if they walk away from the negotiating table, not only do they lose the sanctions relief provided in the interim agreement, Congress would have no reason to delay the imposition of new sanctions for up to one year (as the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act would do).
Instead, Congress would impose these sanctions immediately. By some estimates, these additional sanctions, targeting Iran's oil exports, foreign exchange reserves and strategic sectors of the Iranian economy, would cost the regime a minimum of $55 billion per year. A recent economic analysis by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Roubini Global Economics estimates that new sanctions could precipitate a major trade shock that leads to a significant depreciation of Iran's currency, which will fuel inflation and asset bubbles, force fiscal austerity, and send Iran back into a deep recession.
Given the choice between keeping current sanctions relief, and staving off new sanctionsfor up to one year, versus losing current sanctions relief and sending Iran's economy into free fall, it is not logical to assume the Iranians will walk away from negotiations if Congress passes the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act.
Just a few weeks ago, following an announcement of new sanctions designations by the Treasury Department, Iran recalled its negotiators to Tehran in protest only to return to the negotiating table a few days later.
As the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee recently observed, the echoing of Tehran's propaganda and threats by their allies in Washington does not make such claims true. In fact, it is a reminder of why the credibility of such assertions and those who purvey them is deeply suspect