Foes in US Devising New Plan to Derail Deal

Foes in US Devising New Plan to Derail Deal Foes in US Devising New Plan to Derail Deal

Capitol Hill opponents of the landmark Iranian nuclear accord are devising a Plan B to increase pressure on Iran as US President Barack Obama moves closer to locking up the support needed to implement the deal.

Critics of the agreement have not yet conceded defeat in the congressional battle next month, where they will push to derail the deal.

But as their chances dim, they are preparing to push a rash of new legislation for the fall to increase sanctions on Tehran for its alleged role in supporting destabilizing activities across the Mideast, which could cause Iran to back out of the deal. These politicians also are devising new ways to target the finances of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, according to the Wall Street Journal.  

The fresh sanctions push has the potential to put the White House and leading Democrats, such as the party's presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, in a quandary. Those supporters of the deal could later face a tough decision over whether to back increased sanctions against Iran.

There is growing concern in the White House that any steps viewed as imposing new sanctions could be seized on by the Iranian government to charge the US with violating the nuclear agreement. Already, Iranian officials have argued the US Congress is seeking to simply reimpose these financial restrictions over Iran's support for its regional allies and alleged human rights abuses in the country. Tehran's position could be backed by Russia, China and the European Union—the other parties to the nuclear deal.  

Under its terms, the US, EU and United Nations are committed to significantly scaling back sanctions imposed on Iran for its nuclear activities over the past decade. Many US lawmakers say such sanctions relief would unlock money that Iran could use to fund its allies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories.

The Republican-controlled Congress will vote in September on a resolution disapproving the deal. The measure is expected to clear the house, but will face a tight vote in the senate, where Democrats hope to block its passage in a procedural vote. Even if the resolution were to pass both chambers, Obama would veto it, and he is almost certain to have enough support to sustain a veto in the senate. So far, 30 senators, all members of the Democratic caucus, have backed the agreement, and Obama is expected to secure at least four more, enough to prevent a two-thirds majority from overriding his veto.

The White House is increasingly optimistic that Obama will not have to use his veto authority by getting support from 41 Democrats in the Senate. The measure could then be blocked in the procedural vote.

  Discouraging Investment   

With dwindling chances of derailing the deal, opponents are turning their sights to other steps they can take to pressure Iran and dissuade foreign firms from investing there. One focus is expected to be the 20-year-old Iran Sanctions Act, which expires at the end of 2016. The law prohibits investments of more than $20 million by US or foreign firms in much of Iran's energy industry.

Republican Senator Mark Kirk and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez are pushing a bill to extend the law for an additional decade.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a presidential candidate, and other Republican lawmakers are also drafting bills to impose new sanctions on the IRGC.

Senior Obama administration officials said the president would block Congress from taking certain steps on sanctions that the White House believes would violate the Iran agreement.

Specifically, the White House intends to push back against lawmakers taking sanctions that were implemented in response to Iran's nuclear program and reimposing them under other qualifications, such as Tehran's alleged support for terrorism or human rights concerns.