US Senator Cautions Against New Penalties

Rand PaulRand Paul

A US Republican senator warned about the consequences of fresh US sanctions against Iran, saying such unilateral measures could prove counterproductive.

The US Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to advance a bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran, the same day deadly terror attacks claimed by the self-styled Islamic State hit Tehran.

“We are currently in the middle of an agreement regarding nuclear power and proliferation with Iran that, so far, both sides say has been kept. The issues in the sanctions bill are not subject to that agreement. So unilateral action outside the current agreement, even for legitimate purposes, must be carefully weighed,” said Rand Paul.

He was referring to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers that scaled back Tehran’s nuclear work in exchange for relief from international sanctions.

“New sanctions may even have a counterproductive effect if Iran decides they somehow abrogate the nuclear agreement. If Iran pulls out of the agreement, I think we will really regret hastily adding new sanctions,” the lawmaker wrote in an article published by the National Interest on Friday.

The vote in the senate’s Wednesday session was 92-7 on a procedural motion to end debate on the Iran sanctions bill, clearing the way for a vote later on passage of the legislation, Reuters reported.

Some senators had urged that the procedural vote be delayed, arguing that the timing was inappropriate because of the attacks in Iran.

The legislation would impose new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile development, arms transfers, support for resistance groups and alleged human rights violations.

To become law, the measure would also have to pass the Republican-led House of Representatives and be signed by President Donald Trump.


Paul expressed misgivings about the effectiveness of the US unilateral sanctions.

“The sanctions’ unilateral nature renders them unlikely to succeed. Iran has already stated they will not stop their ballistic missile program. While we think the whole world sees everything through our lens, I think Iran sees what their neighbors, especially Saudi Arabia, think and do as much more important than what we do or what our sanctions say, frankly.”

The nuclear accord was announced amid escalating tensions between Tehran and Riyadh that led to a Saudi decision to sever diplomatic ties in early 2016, days before the deal took effect.

“If the whole world invoked these sanctions, they might be effective…, but I do not think these unilateral sanctions will have any effect,” Paul said.

Iran’s rival Arab states are in possession of large arsenals of ballistic missiles and that makes a good case for Iran trying to build a counterbalance by expanding its missile program, he noted.

“I do not think [the Iranians] really perceive us as a threat. We have thousands of ballistic missiles, yes, but I think they are primarily concerned with Saudi Arabia and the other [Persian] Gulf sheikhdoms, who already have hundreds of missiles. They also see Israel’s nuclear weapons as a threat.”

“It is my belief that Iran will never quit developing ballistic missiles unless there is an agreement with Saudi Arabia and/or the rest of the [Persian] Gulf kingdoms to do the same. And so I think new sanctions are a fool’s errand, and they will not work,” the lawmaker added.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints