AIC Statement: Sanctions Bill Delayed

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who has been leading the drive for new sanctions legislation, told the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday that he would delay introducing a sanctions bill until after March 24, the deadline for nuclear negotiators to reach a political framework. The Senator told the Committee that he and his colleagues still hoped for a diplomatic solution but were “deeply skeptical” about Iran’s willingness to make the necessary concessions, which the Senator defines as near-total surrender.

The American Iranian Council, which has always supported diplomacy and been against all sanctions on Iran, welcomes this delay as a positive step. As the Council suggested in previous statements, this bill was essentially designed as a pressure tactic for the US to extract the maximum possible concessions from Iran. Menendez’s announcement of a delay is consistent with our theory that the Congress and Administration have been playing a clumsy “good-cop-bad-cop” strategy all along.

This bill was introduced in the winter of 2013, just before the parties agreed to the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA). It resurfaced in the fall of 2014, as the parties were closing in on the deadline for a comprehensive deal, only to announce an extension of the talks. Once again, this 14-month-old bill is making headlines, this time to pressure Iran to make maximum concessions on the “political framework” deal. Based on our theory, we expect that this bill will pop up once again soon after March 24, regardless of whether a deal for the political framework is agreed upon or not.

The AIC, the first prominent organization to push for diplomacy and normal relations between the US and Iran, believes that this ‘coercive diplomacy’ strategy is destined to fail, and calls on all parties to engage in ‘good faith’ diplomacy to resolve the nuclear issue. By trying to extract the maximum concessions from Iran, seemingly demanded by the bad cops, the US is pursuing a ‘win-lose’ deal and making a long-term sustainable solution much less likely to be achieved.

In fact, even if Iran were to sign an imbalanced deal that makes it the ‘loser’ of the negotiations, such a deal will prove unsustainable and likely fall apart. In such an eventually the goodwill that the United States has garnered among the Iranian people will again disappear. The way forward is not to harness sanctions, threats, and coercion. Rather, it is to pursue a ‘win-win’ solution that affords Iran its rights to peaceful nuclear technology in the context of its obligations to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

-The American Iranian Council


Kayvon Afshari

Kayvon Afshari managed the campaign to elect Hooshang Amirahmadi as President of Iran. In this role, he directed the campaign’s event planning, publicity, online social media, web analytics, and delivered speeches. Mr. Afshari has also been working at the CBS News foreign desk for over five years. He has coordinated coverage of Iran’s 2009 post-election demonstrations, the Arab Spring, the earthquake in Haiti, and many other stories of international significance. He holds a Master in International Relations from New York University’s Department of Politics, and graduated with distinction from McGill University in 2007 with a double major in political science and Middle Eastern studies. At NYU, his research focused on quantitative analysis and the Middle East with an emphasis on US-Iran relations. In his 2012 Master’s thesis, he devised a formula to predict whether Israel would launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, concluding that an overt strike would not materialize.