US senators urging for Iran energy sanctions extension despite nuclear deal progress
A bipartisan group of US senators has put forth a bill to extend US energy sanctions on Iran that were initiated more than 25 years ago, despite signs of progress from Tehran and Washington over the Iran nuclear deal.
The purpose of the bill, according to its text, is "To repeal the sunset provision of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996," with a proposed name of the "Solidify Iran Sanctions Act of 2022".
"The United States, Israel, and our Arab partners remain concerned about the looming threat that a nuclear Iran poses to the stability of the region," said one of the signatories, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, according to a press release from Scott’s office.
"US sanctions are a necessary deterrent for this dangerous and unstable regime, which is why my bill will make the cornerstone of sanctions on Iran permanent," Scott said.
"Iran has repeatedly undertaken destabilising activities in the Middle East. This bipartisan legislation will ensure that we continue US sanctions on Iran, which are important for restraining Iran's ability to pursue weapons and technology that threaten our national security and the safety of Israel, our strongest partner in the region," said Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, according to Scott’s press release.
According to the statement, the bill is supported by the conservative lobby groups the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) Action.
This move comes as the US and Iran appear to be close to a deal that would see Iran reopen itself to nuclear inspections and reduce its nuclear development in exchange for sanctions relief. Earlier this month, the European Union gave its final proposal to Iran and the US for the deal.
These closely guarded indirect negotiations made headline news last week when Iran reportedly asked for reassurances that the US would be held accountable for staying in the deal.
It’s unclear what the entirety of this bill would encompass, given the myriad of sanctions imposed on Iran for the past four decades. However, what is well known is that reopening Iran’s energy sector would be an important part in the country’s economic recovery.
"These sanctions have been renewed again and again since 1996. At this point, these sanctions already in place, so there’s nothing new being added on. This seems more posturing than anything else," said James Devine, associate professor of politics and international relations at Mount Allison University.
"It creates more pressure on Biden to be tough. It sends a signal from these particular members of the senate that they’re hard on Iran no matter what. Looks good for them as individuals and to constituents," he said.
"But I don’t think that necessarily will change much. It could change atmosphere of negotiations, but probably not substance."