MPs Warn New US Sanctions Would Bring Retaliation

Iran’s response to the US lack of commitment would include a range of measures such as resuming peaceful nuclear activities within the framework of the NPT and ceasing adherence to the limits set in the JCPOA
A general view of the Majlis A general view of the Majlis

Lawmakers have warned that a US decision to extend the Iran Sanctions Act would be seen as a violation of the 2015 nuclear deal and trigger retaliation from the Islamic Republic.

Republican members of the US Congress, who control the House of Representatives and Senate and strongly oppose the historic nuclear agreement, have introduced several anti-Iran measures to interfere with its implementation.

The House voted 419 to one last week to pass a bill to renew the ISA for another decade, a law first adopted in 1996 to target Iran's energy sector.

The measure will expire at the end of 2016, if it is not renewed and the bill must still be approved by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama to become law.

Iranian lawmakers believe that if the bill becomes legally enforceable, it would put the US in violation of the terms of last year's nuclear accord between Iran and the six major powers, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

It has been in effect since January to scale down Tehran's nuclear work in return for easing international sanctions.

"JCPOA has banned the extension of such sanction laws" said MP Mojtaba Zolnoor, adding that the ISA renewal could prompt the Islamic Republic to pull out of the deal. Hard liners and political opponents of President Hassan Rouhani have often called on the government to pull out of the deal and start enriching uranium at higher levels.

  Range of Options

"Iran's response to the US lack of commitment would include a range of measures. We would be entitled to resume peaceful nuclear activities within the framework of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and cease adhering to the limits set in the JCPOA," he told ICANA on Wednesday.  

The deal says, "The US administration, consistent with the respective roles of the president and the Congress, will refrain from reintroducing or re-imposing the sanctions … It has ceased applying under this JCPOA. Iran has stated that it will treat such a reintroduction or re-imposition of the sanctions … or such an imposition of new nuclear-related sanctions, as grounds not to uphold its commitments under the JCPOA in whole or in part."

During his election campaign, US president-elect Donald Trump criticized the action plan, widely considered to be the top foreign policy achievement of outgoing Democratic President Barack Obama, as a "disaster" and "the worst deal ever negotiated".

While most of the US Congress' anti-deal moves have faced Obama's veto threat, his successor's hawkish stance has fueled uncertainty about the fate of the deal approved by the UN Security Council.

Trump is scheduled to be sworn in on January 20.

  US Instability

Lawmaker Valiollah Nanvakenari noted that contradictory approaches of the current and incoming White House officials to the international pact underscores "US political and management instability."

Another parliamentarian Gholamali Jafarzadeh said frequent cases of US non-adherence to the pact have left Iran with no option but to retaliate.

"The only way to confront the US failure to fully carry out its side the JCPOA is retaliation and the Majlis would support any measure in this regard."

Lawmakers were echoing the stance of the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, who warned Wednesday that should the ISA bill be passed into law and implemented, Iran will treat it as a breach of the JCPOA and respond accordingly.

"The current US administration … has so far committed numerous infringements in relation to the nuclear agreement," the Leader said.

"If the extension [to the ISA] is enforced, it would constitute a violation of the JCPOA, and they should know that it would definitely prompt a response from  the Islamic Republic."

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