ISA Renewal Runs Counter to JCPOA

Iranian lawmakers are crafting a bill to ban the purchase of US-made products in response to the move by the US Congress to extend sanctions
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi

Iran's Foreign Ministry said a bill to extend Iran Sanctions Act that has gone through the US Congress and awaits the presidential approval to become law goes against the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal.

The measure, which cleared the Senate on Thursday, would keep in place the 20-year-old ISA for another decade.

Bahram Qasemi, the ministry's spokesperson, reiterated the Islamic Republic's criticism of the Congress bill on Friday.

"As Iranian officials have repeatedly made it clear, the recent legislation that has passed the US House of Representatives and Senate to renew sanctions against Iran runs counter to JCPOA and the US obligations under the international law that prohibits interference in other countries' international relations."

Qasemi was using an abbreviation that stands for the formal title of the accord, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

"The administration of the United States is bound by the basic principles governing international relations to carry out the US international commitments," he was quoted as saying by IRNA.

"America's domestic political developments and what goes on between its legislative and executive branches do not justify its failure or refusal to implement its international obligations." 

The measure passed the Senate by 99-0, Reuters reported. 

It passed the House of Representatives nearly unanimously in November, and congressional aides said they expected President Barack Obama to sign it.

The ISA will expire on Dec. 31 if not renewed.

The White House had not pushed for an extension, but had not raised serious objections either.

Iran reached the nuclear pact with the United States and five other powers, namely Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, to get sanctions relief in return for temporary curbs on its nuclear program.

The UN-endorsed deal says, "The US administration, acting consistent with the respective roles of the president and the congress, will refrain from reintroducing or reimposing the sanctions … it has ceased applying under this JCPOA. Iran has stated that it will treat such a reintroduction or reimposition of the sanctions … or such an imposition of new nuclear-related sanctions, as grounds to cease performing its commitments under the JCPOA in whole or in part."

  Obama's Obligations

Qasemi reminded Obama's obligations to protect the agreement, saying, "JCPOA has committed the US president to use his mandate to block the enforcement of any anti-JCPOA legislation, including the recent one passed by Congress." 

Members of Congress and administration officials claimed the ISA renewal would not violate the nuclear pact.

"While we do not think that an extension of ISA is necessary, we do not believe that a clean extension would be a violation of the JCPOA," a senior administration official said.

Democrats who backed the accord said the ISA extension would not be considered a JCPOA violation because it continued a sanctions regime that was already in place. 

They said they had not heard such objections from US partners.

"I have not heard strident objections from our key allies in the JCPOA," Democratic Senator Chris Coons told reporters.

Republican US president-elect Donald Trump railed against the pact as he campaigned for the White House. Other members of his party, which control Congress, unanimously oppose the historic agreement and have introduced numerous measures to interfere with its implementation.

Their Iranian counterparts in the meantime are crafting a bill to ban the purchase of US-made products in response to the congressional move, a member of Iran's parliament said.

"Lawmakers will definitely vote to pass the double-urgency bill that forbids the purchase of US-made goods," Behrouz Nemati said. 

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