Congressman Sherman Responds to the President’s Decertification of the Iran Nuclear Deal
Washington, D.C. – Today, President Trump failed to certify Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal. Now, any one of the House and Senate Majority and Minority leaders may introduce legislation to reimpose the sanctions that were waived by the deal within 60 days and such legislation, if introduced, will require only 50 votes in the Senate. Congressman Sherman, a senior Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee released the following statement:
“I was the first Member of Congress of either party to urge the rejection of the Iran deal, speaking on the House Floor hours after it was published.
But if the U.S. renounces the deal, Iran keeps the roughly $100 billion they got last year, while being freed from the restraints imposed by the agreement.
Our goal should be to enforce and extend the nuclear deal. If we renounce the deal at this point, we cannot enforce, monitor, or extend any nuclear restrictions on Iran; in fact, we may end them. I cannot think of a worse result than Iran being free to pursue a nuclear program without the limits of the JCPOA.
We should also impose the strongest possible non-nuclear sanctions on Iran for a number of reasons: its ballistic missile program, support for terrorism (Iran is still a State Department-designated State Sponsor of Terrorism), and human rights abuses. Iran is complicit in the murder of hundreds of thousands in Syria, and tens of thousands in Yemen. We need to impose these sanctions with European support. But the truth is, we do not need to renounce the deal and potentially liberate Iran from its obligations in order to impose any of these sanctions.
As to one specific area where additional pressure can be brought to bear, Trump expressed his intention to target Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). I agree that we should hit the IRGC and their business partners hard. The JCPOA did not require the U.S. to lift any sanctions on the IRGC, so this is a key area where additional pressure can be applied on Iran, consistent with the Agreement.
Most people will focus on the President’s decision to designate the IRGC a terrorist organization. That is an important decision, but it is by no means the most important way we can target the IRGC.
The IRGC was already under sanctions for its nuclear proliferation activities, and legislation enacted in July– the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act –required that the organization be treated as a terrorist organization.
What has been lacking, however, is the vigilance in seeking to discover and designate many additional organizations – businesses, foundations and other groups – that are affiliated with the IRGC, and the imposition of tough measures against the companies that do business with them. Trump did say that he will seek to designate more officials, agents, and affiliates, but nothing about secondary sanctions on their business partners.
This is an organization that by some estimates controls 40 percent of Iran’s economy. To date, we have only designated some 70 organizations and individuals for affiliation with the IRGC. We have also done very little to punish firms that conduct business with those by hitting them with secondary sanctions, as is provided by several provisions of law, including a statute that I wrote with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, namely Title III of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012.
If you do business in Iran, it is likely that you are doing business with the IRGC. The IRGC and its Quds Force have their hand in conflicts across the Middle East, and have the blood of U.S. troops on their hands as the purveyor of the most effective IEDs used against our troops in Iraq. I hope the Trump Administration will use the tools that they have been given to effectively punish this group and those that choose to do business with them.”
Background: Congressman Sherman has been working to confront Iran, its nuclear program, and its support for terrorism since arriving to Congress in 1997. Congressman Sherman was the first Member of the House of Representatives to speak on the House Floor in opposition to the Iran nuclear deal after its text was published. On October 11, 2017, Congressman Sherman spoke at the House Foreign Affairs Committee, at a hearing titled “Confronting the Full Range of Iranian Threats,” (to view his statement, click here).