New Sanctions Would Violate Interim Nuclear Deal

New Sanctions Would Violate Interim Nuclear Deal
New Sanctions Would Violate Interim Nuclear Deal

One of the most "consequential decisions" that the new US Congress will make is how to approach ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran, newly elected member of the US House of Representatives Ryan Costello wrote in a recent article for the Hill.    

Negotiators from Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) could strike a historic nuclear deal in the months ahead, however, the negotiations themselves and the implementation of any prospective agreement depend on the willingness of Congress to show restraint, the US lawmaker said.

He enumerated the points that the US lawmakers should take into consideration when they make decisions on the nuclear talks.

  Interim Deal Working

The first point is that the interim nuclear deal that Iran and the six major powers signed in November 2013, which is officially called the Joint Plan of Action, is working, he said.  

"Iran has fully upheld its commitments under the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), the interim nuclear deal that has frozen and partially rolled back Iran's nuclear program over the past year.  Iran no longer enriches to the 20 percent level, which was often considered the most dangerous element of Iran's enrichment program.  Iran's centrifuges and stockpile of low enriched uranium remain frozen.  Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) now have daily access to Iran's enrichment facilities and expanded access to other nuclear sites. The IAEA continues to verify Iran's compliance with the JPOA."

Another point that should be taken into account is that any new sanctions would violate the interim nuclear deal, the lawmaker said.  

"Since the JPOA went into effect, the P5+1 has agreed not to impose new nuclear-related sanctions on Iran.  While the administration continues to enforce existing sanctions, passage of new nuclear sanctions by Congress would violate the deal," he said, adding, "The impact of Congress forcing the US to violate the JPOA would be dire. First, the negotiations would collapse along with the nuclear constraints and enhanced inspections included in the agreement.                                                

Moreover, such action would likely unravel vital international enforcement of the sanctions regime… As a result, we would lose our key leverage for securing Iranian nuclear concessions at the same time we lose strong limitations on Iran’s nuclear program.”  

Costello also said the fact that Iran is backing the Iraqi government in its campaign against the so-called Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS) militant group, which has posed a serious threat to the interests of the US in the region. “The US and Iran have shared strategic interests in ensuring regional stability.  However, the Obama administration has been clear that the negotiations are focused solely on the nuclear issue and that enhanced regional cooperation would not be considered until after a nuclear deal is concluded,” he said, adding, “In Iraq, Iran has already helped replace (former) Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki with Haider al-Abadi, warned Shiite militants not to attack US forces and conducted strikes against ISIS (Iran denied reports that it carried out airstrikes against IS positions in Iraq).

Following a nuclear deal, the US could broaden communication channels and explore expanded coordination against ISIS.  US-Iran security cooperation could also extend to Afghanistan, where Iran previously helped to form a new Afghan government before (former US) president George W. Bush lumped Iran into the rhetorical axis of evil.”

  Devastating Consequences

In conclusion, the US lawmaker said the failure of the nuclear talks would have devastating consequences.  

He said, “Iran could resume enrichment to the 20 percent level or beyond while bringing online thousands of additional centrifuges.   IAEA inspectors would have far less monitoring than they have under the JPOA, and Iran could even withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty and end international monitoring altogether.  Work at the Arak heavy water reactor could resume, increasing the risk that it produces large stockpiles of plutonium.

“If talks collapse, the US would likely amplify sanctions on Iran. Far from convincing Iran to surrender, new sanctions would likely trigger Iranian counter-escalations that could lead to war.  Further, military strikes cannot erase Iran’s nuclear know-how and would likely only incentivize an Iranian push for a nuclear deterrent (Iran denies such an objective and says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful applications.

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution in a religious decree has banned the production, stockpiling and use of weapons of mass destruction).”