A letter is circulating through the House gathering signatures to let President Obama know that any long-term sanctions relief for Iran requires congressional action.
It has bipartisan roots: House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.). They intend to send it to Obama “soon,” after it works its way around the House where it should gather even more bipartisan traction.
“Iran’s nuclear program poses a grave threat to the national security of the United States and our allies. As the July 20th deadline for a ‘comprehensive solution’ to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon approaches, we urge greater consultation with Congress on a potential sanctions relief package that may be part of a final agreement,” states the letter.
“Our two branches of government have long been partners in working to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. However, as these hugely consequential national security decisions are made, greater cooperation between Congress and the Executive Branch is essential, given that any permanent sanctions relief demands congressional approval.”
The letter stresses that Secretary of State John Kerry promised in a recent congressional hearing that the administration would bring sanctions relief before Congress as they “would be obligated to under the law.”
“Your Administration has committed to comprehensively lifting ‘nuclear-related’ sanctions as part of a final P5+1 agreement with Tehran. Yet the concept of an exclusively defined ‘nuclear-related’ sanction on Iran does not exist in U.S. law. Almost all sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program are also related to Tehran’s advancing ballistic missile program, intensifying support for international terrorism, and other unconventional weapons programs. Similarly, many of these sanctions are aimed at preventing Iranian banks involved in proliferation, terrorism, money laundering and other activities from utilizing the U.S. and global financial systems to advance these destructive policies,” it continues.
“Iran’s permanent and verifiable termination of all of these activities – not just some – is a prerequisite for permanently lifting most congressionally-mandated sanctions. This often unnoted reality necessitates extensive engagement with Congress before offers of relief are made to Iran, and requires Congressional action if sanctions are to be permanently lifted. With the July 20 negotiating deadline on the near horizon, we hope that your Administration will now engage in substantive consultations with Congress on the scope of acceptable sanctions relief.”
Concludes the letter, “It would be wise for Congress and the Executive Branch to work closely together to end the threat that Iran’s efforts to acquire a nuclear weapons capability pose to U.S. national security.”