Dem Lawmakers Unite in Call to Impose Immediate Sanctions on Iran
Democratic lawmakers – opponents and supporters of the Iran nuclear deal – on Wednesday called on the Obama Administration to impose punitive sanctions on Iran without delay.
In a letter sent to President Barack Obama, House Representatives Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Albio Sires, Gerry Connolly, Susan Davis and Jerry Nadler called for immediate punitive sanctions in response to Iran’s recent violations of UN Security Council resolutions law by conducting two ballistic missile tests.
“Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region and continued support for terrorism represent an unacceptable threat to our closest allies as well as our own national security,” the Democrats write in the letter. “As the international community prepares for implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran must understand that violating international laws, treaties, and agreements will have serious consequences. We call on the Administration to immediately announce new, U.S. sanctions against individuals and entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program to ensure Iran is held accountable for its actions.”
During the congressional review of the Iran nuclear deal, President Obama promised Democratic lawmakers he would respond forcefully to Iranian malfeasance and would swiftly impose sanctions for non-nuclear issues outside of the JCPOA—including ballistic missile activity. In a letter to Rep. Nadler, before getting him on board in support of the deal, President Obama wrote, “I made sure that the United States reserved its right to maintain and enforce existing sanctions and even to deploy new sanctions to address those continuing concerns, which we fully intend to do when circumstances warrant.”
Last week, the administration notified Congress that it intended to impose sanctions on nearly a dozen companies and individuals for providing support to Iran’s ballistic missile program. But the White House quickly walked back the announcement. On Saturday, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said, “We just have additional work that we need to do as the U.S. government before we would announce additional designations.”
Read the full text of the letter below:
January 6, 2016
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We write to express our serious concern with Iran’s recent violation of international law by test-firing medium-range ballistic missiles in October and November 2015.
As you know, the United Nations (UN) Security Panel of Experts concluded that the October test was a blatant violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929. While the UN Panel has yet to characterize Iran’s second medium range ballistic missile test in November as a violation, both exercises foster insecurity in surrounding countries about Iran’s military capabilities and intent.
Additionally, an Iranian rocket—fired by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps during live-fire exercises—came within just 1,500 feet last week of the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman that was operating in the Strait of Hormuz.
Such aggressive and destabilizing behavior is deeply troubling, particularly preceding implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and demands a U.S. response. While not all of us share the same opinion on the JCPOA, we are united in our desire to ensure it is vigilantly enforced and to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
For this reason, the United States and our allies must take immediate, punitive action and send a clear message to Iran that violating international laws, treaties, and agreements will have serious consequences. We understand the Administration is preparing sanctions against individuals and entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, and we urge you to announce such sanctions without further delay.
Inaction from the United States would send the misguided message that, in the wake of the JCPOA, the international community has lost the willingness to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its support for terrorism and other offensive actions throughout the region—including in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip. This behavior—including these ballistic missile tests—poses a direct threat to American national security interests and those of our allies.
As Members of Congress committed to regional and international security and stability, we stand ready to assist you in holding Iran accountable for its actions. Thank you for your attention to this critical matter, and we look forward to your response.