Corker-Cotton Bill Dismissed as Unacceptable

Hamidreza KazemiHamidreza Kazemi

Lawmakers dismissed as unacceptable the provisions of a US Congress anti-Iran bill, still in the making, to toughen restrictions placed on Tehran's nuclear program under the 2015 nuclear accord.

"The JCPOA-related terms of the US Congress bill cannot be considered even for negotiation," Hamidreza Kazemi said in a recent talk with ICANA.

He was using an abbreviation that stands for the official title of the agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

According to a draft Republican bill sought by President Donald Trump as he tries to unravel the landmark international accord, US sanctions against Iran automatically would kick in if Tehran violated new constraints.

The draft bill, crafted by Sens. Bob Corker and Tom Cotton with input from the Trump administration, would not necessarily violate the Iran nuclear deal if passed into law.

But the measure, obtained by the AP, could still end up derailing the agreement by holding Iran to a series of requirements not previously agreed to when the deal was forged by the US and the other five world powers two years ago.

The legislation aims to meet Trump's demands that congress act quickly to toughen the existing law that governs US participation in the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump is also insisting that other countries party to the accord repair a series of alleged deficiencies and has threatened to pull the US out of the agreement if the changes are not made.

Kazemi noted that the JCPOA parties are barred from any unilateral action on the deal.    

"As per the text of the action plan, the United States cannot take a unilateral decision to revise or halt the implementation of the agreement."

Trump alone cannot actually terminate the accord, which gave Iran sanctions relief in return for rolling back its nuclear program.

But withdrawing the US would render the deal virtually meaningless.

He refused earlier this month to certify that Iran is complying with the accord and blamed Tehran for its alleged destabilizing role in the Middle East.

Critics of unilaterally legislating new terms outside of the JCPOA have argued such an approach may isolate the US and force key European allies to side with Iran in defense of the deal.

  Amendment Not Allowed

Kazemi's view was echoed by another member of the Iranian Parliament, Morteza Saffari, who categorically rejected the congress bill's provisions.

"US senators should note that JCPOA is an international document and cannot be subjected to any amendment. So the Corker-Cotton bill would never be enforceable," Saffari said.

While legislation has yet to circulate among many lawmakers, Senate Democrats said they are opposed to any measures that may rewrite or nullify the criteria for Iran to receive US sanctions relief under the terms of the nuclear pact.

Republicans hold a narrow majority in the Senate and Democrats may be able to use the filibuster to block the measure from being brought to a vote.

The draft proposal reflects the deep misgivings among many Republicans over what they consider to be fatal flaws in the nuclear deal.

The measure, which has not yet been introduced in congress, spells out in technical detail how the US would freeze at one year Iran's "breakout timeline" for being able to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon.

Tehran denies any military aspects to its nuclear work, which it says is totally for peaceful purposes.

The draft bill would effectively make permanent provisions in the nuclear deal with Iran that relate to uranium enrichment and stockpiles and the operation of specific centrifuges.

Saffari said the toughened restrictions stipulated in the bill violate the terms of the nuclear deal.

"The senators' proposal to perpetuate the constraints on Iran's nuclear activities breaches the JCPOA… The Islamic Republic will never submit to such hostile policy," the parliamentarian stressed.

The legislation effectively disposes of the so-called "sunset" provisions, which begin to expire from 2025, altogether.

The bill requires a semi-annual report on Iran's compliance. The reporting would be expanded significantly to include additional examples of objectionable Iranian behavior that could be used to further build the case Tehran is not complying with the deal.

According to the measure, Iran would be in violation of the seven-nation nuclear accord if it failed to give the International Atomic Energy Agency "sufficient access to any site, including military sites," requested by the UN watchdog.

"Congress' terms imposing the inspection of military facilities are absolutely non-negotiable and will never be accepted," Kazemi said.

Despite Trump's objections, the IAEA has said Iran's is honoring its commitments and US military leaders echo that assessment, saying the deal is in the US national security interest.


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