Saeed Sadeghi Jegheh
Given the role of the US legislators in many of the sanctions imposed on Iran, it is very important to be aware of the possible reactions of the US Congress towards implementation of a nuclear deal with Iran. Larry Hanover, a Rand expert, has considered the mentioned possible Congress role in his paper.
He argues that although a diplomatic conclusion of the talks is possible now that can include removal of sanctions, any new sanctions by the USA can destroy the deal, push Iran towards a higher level of enrichment, ruin the global support for the sanctions, and isolate the USA at the international level. Therefore, adoption of any further sanctions by the Congress will be possible if Iran breaches the agreement.
The US government has declared that it will not remove non-nuclear related sanctions and many Congressmen do agree with this point. Therefore, even if the American companies rightly state that removal of sanctions is only in favor of foreign companies, it seems unlikely that the Congress would agree with immediate removal of sanctions.
From the author’s point of view, the Congress will have sufficient time to oversee implementation of the deal and if both sides comply with the provisions of the agreement, the Congress will probably put removal of sanctions on its agenda. However, if Iran does not comply with its commitments, the US can restore sanctions and the Congress can adopt new ones. Of course, according to the US law, in some special conditions, the president can suspend any sanctions, and if the Congress didn’t agree with that decision, the next president can restore them. Of course, even if the President removes these sanctions, removal of non-nuclear elated sanctions are really difficult. The Congress can facilitate implementation of the agreement by allocation the budget needed. Or by blocking the needed budget or adoption of new laws contrary to the agreement, can disrupt its implementation. As long as there is not enough evidence of Iran’s compliance with its obligations, it is not realistic to expect allocations of enough budget and removal of sanctions, as none of the Congressmen have tackled the issue of removal of sanctions, although some of them are supporting the deal.
It is worth mentioning that the Congress cannot distract the government from implementing the deal. The president enjoys enough competence to realize his decisions. Other than that, many of the sanctions are initiated by presidential decree and he simply can nullify them. If a majority of the Congressmen disagree with the removal of sanctions, they can adopt a new legislation limiting the government’s power to do so or disrupting its implementation.
The author argues that regardless of possible approaches, the Congress can permit using force against Iran, even without president’s request. This law can be applicable in the duration of the deal or in a special period of time, for instance, the end of the current presidential term.
The Rand is of the view that instead of issuing permission to apply a military option against Iran which, is a direct confrontation, it can push for expansion of military cooperation with Israel in a way that Israel can attack Iranian nuclear facilities any time needed. Approving supply of penetrative bombs and bombers is an example thereof.