National Security

Clinton sides with Dem leaders on Iran sanctions

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Hillary Clinton is siding with leading Senate Democrats in a looming fight over expiring sanctions on Iran.

In a statement to The Hill, a spokesman for Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, called for Congress to renew the expiring Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) without adding additional measures to combat recent aggressive behavior in the wake of the international nuclear deal.

{mosads}“Hillary Clinton supports a clean reauthorization of the Iran Sanctions Act and believes Congress should get this done in short order when they return from recess,” Jesse Lehrich said.

“She has always made clear that while the historic deal passed last year represents a crucial step forward toward preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, we must proceed with a ‘distrust and verify’ approach,” he said. “Maintaining the infrastructure to immediately snap back sanctions if Iran violates the terms of the deal is essential.

“Congress should put partisanship aside and send the president a clean ISA reauthorization bill for his signature.”

The position aligns the former secretary of State with leading Democratic lawmakers such as Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sens. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Ben Cardin (Md.), who in July introduced a measure to renew the current law as-is for another decade.

Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), has introduced a similar bill with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) that would renew the sanctions law until a United Nations agency certifies that all Iranian nuclear material is being used for peaceful activities. That certification would likely come in eight years.

Clinton’s position might leave less wiggle room for moderate Democrats looking to team up with Republican lawmakers to pile new restrictions on Iran.

Before leaving town for the August recess, Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez (N.J.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) joined with Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) on a bill that would renew the Iran Sanctions Act and also add new mandatory sanctions and limits on the White House’s ability to waive the restrictions.

The White House has warned lawmakers against additional sanctions or restrictions on the president’s power. However, it has also urged Congress not to rush to pass new sanctions until the December deadline is nearer, seemingly so as not to inflame tensions with Iran.

The Iran Sanctions Act expires at the end of the year, and renewal is likely to be a top issue for lawmakers on Capitol Hill this autumn. Legislators contend that the law is essential to be able to put sanctions back in place should Iran break its terms of the nuclear accord.

That deal, which went into full effect in January, lifts international sanctions on Iran’s energy and financial sectors in exchange for limits on its ability to produce a nuclear weapon.

Clinton has taken credit for laying the groundwork of the nuclear deal with Iran while serving as secretary of State, and the issue has been a point of contention between her and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has promised to shred the deal if elected.

The accord was never very popular among Americans, and public attitudes may have turned further against it in recent months, following continued aggression by Iran and stories that appear to show the Obama administration as overly eager to reach a deal. On Thursday, a think tank led by a former United Nations weapons inspector claimed that the U.S. and other countries secretly exempted Iran from certain responsibilities under the deal in order to have implementation done on time.

Critics of the agreement say that additional sanctions are necessary to punish Iran for continued human rights abuses, ballistic missile tests and other aggressive acts.

Defenders of the deal have worried, however, that new sanctions could be seen as an attempt to undermine the accord and might end up scuttling it.

In his statement on Thursday, Lehrich maintained that Clinton, if elected, would not hesitate to employ new sanctions against Iran if they were called for.  

“As president, she will also continue to enforce, and strengthen as necessary, sanctions on Iran’s support for terrorism, human rights abuses and ballistic missile activity,” he said.

Tags Ben Cardin Bob Corker Bob Menendez Charles Schumer Chris Murphy Donald Trump Harry Reid Hillary Clinton Iran Sanctions Act Joe Manchin Marco Rubio Tim Kaine Tom Cotton
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