Obama Win: Dem Senators Flip-Flop, Delay Iran Sanctions Bill

By Golnaz Esfandiari and Luke Johnson | (RFE/RL)

WASHINGTON — A key U.S. senator says he and nine other senators are holding their support for a bill imposing new sanctions on Iran over its controversial nuclear program.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (Democrat-New Jersey), co-sponsor of a bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran if there is no deal by the end of June, said at a January 27 Senate hearing that he and nine other Democratic senators sent a letter to President Barack Obama telling him they would not support passage of the bill until March 24.

Menendez and the others said they would support the bill after March 24, “if Iran fails to reach agreement on a political framework that addresses all parameters of a comprehensive agreement.”

The letter says the 10 senators are “hopeful” that diplomacy will succeed but added that they are “deeply skeptical” Iran is ready to make concessions to prove its atomic program is peaceful.

The letter is a victory for Obama, who has vowed to veto any new sanctions bill while talks with Iran are ongoing. The letter comes after U.S. House speaker John Boehner (Republican-Ohio) announced an invitation for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress on the threat posed by Iran, without consulting the Obama administration beforehand.

Republicans hold 54 seats in the U.S. Senate. To pass the legislation over a veto, as co-sponsoring Senator Mark Kirk (Republican-Illinois) has been pushing for, they would need the support of those Democrats.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, testifying at the hearing, said that he had not seen the letter but welcomed the news.

“We appreciate the recognition that our negotiators could use additional time and space,” he said.

All but two of the signatories to the letter were co-sponsors of a previous version of the bill introduced in the last Congress.

The draft legislation sponsored by Senators Kirk and Menendez is not the only proposal floating on Capitol Hill.

Senators Barbara Boxer (Democrat-California) and Rand Paul (Republican-Kentucky) have announced plans for a “moderate proposal” imposing sanctions if Western negotiators fail to reach an agreement with Iran.

The Kirk-Menendez bill is scheduled for markup in the Senate Banking Committee on January 29.

Via RFE/RL

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

Related video added by Juan Cole:

Menendez Asks Questions at Banking Committee’s Iran Sanctions Hearing

2 Responses

  1. From a practical point of view, the congress critters have already shot their entire wad and further attempts at sanctions or manipulating the global banking system will not only FAIL miserably but could make it very hard for US companies to operate on a global basis.

    From this point on, the only thing the congress critters can do that would have any meaning would be to declare war on Iran. Given the extreme reluctance congress critters have with having a public vote to authorize war on ISIL, it is unlikely they would ever vote to go to war with Iran, especially when the US military and US intelligence services are adamantly against it.

    The political cost of declaring war on Iran would devastate the republican party in 2016. Only Rand Paul might have a chance if he guaranteed to stop the war overnight (because by 2016 the war would be going very,very badly for the USA).

    Maybe the US military explained to Mendez that Iran has huge military strength. For example:

    – Total Population: 79,853,900
    – Available Manpower: 46,247,556 (1)
    – Fit for Service: 39,566,497
    – Reaching Military Age Annually: 1,392,483]
    – Active Frontline Personnel: 545,000 (2)
    – Active Reserve Personnel: 1,800,000 (2)

    (1) More than enough people to kill every American that invades Iran – This is ~15% of the US population – Will the US want to dedicate 15% of its population to war with Iran?

    (2) Bigger than US military unless the US re-starts conscription

    – Iran has put in place an extensive antiaircraft network consisting of multiple layers of ;

    – S-400 equivalent long range missiles (very deadly)
    – BUK equivalent medium range missiles (very deadly)
    – ManPad short range missiles

    Iran has enough to target each incoming aircraft with multiple missiles, making the lives of most invading pilots very short.

    Iran also very probably has DF21D “carrier killer” missiles, so the US fleet has to stay at least 800 miles from Iran and can not get anywhere near the Persian Gulf. Then there are the supercavitating torpedoes that Iranian subs carry that give any ship in the Persian Gulf less than 30 seconds to realize they are about to get blown up.

    Given that the US will NOT be able to get any “partners” to help fight the war, the US will be totally broke within a few months.

    Maybe the real world finally got through the massive delusion Mendez appears to have.

    • We become broke when our creditors say we’re broke. Our creditors are China, Iran’s semi-ally, and Saudi Arabia, which wants Iran crushed. China is only interested in containing the US and marketing its neat new weapons, so bogging us down in a war in Iran may not look like a bad deal; letting us bog ourselves down in Iraq enabled China to make its big move into world power unimpeded by Cheney’s PNAC doctrines demanding action against any country that dared challenge US power of any sort. China must also love the cheap oil that Saudi is using as a weapon in this pre-war.

      But the real mystery is how long Saudi and its fellow Arab tyrannies can prop us up with debt when it is also undercutting oil prices to hurt Iran and Russia.

      The real shock is watching the US morph before our eyes from a country that would kill for cheap oil to a country that would kill for expensive oil, which all-out war will finally produce.

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