Following the passage of the latest round of mild sanctions on Iran, the Obama administration is now seeking to weaken the sanctions passing through Congress. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Rep Howard Berman (D-CA) last Friday seeking to increase the administration’s “flexibility” by granting waivers to EU nations. While the US must work with the EU to ensure that it passes its own set of sanctions on Iran, Washington can no longer afford to make exemptions or “cut outs” on an issue of such importance.
Seeking these waivers is another clear sign of this administration’s unwillingness to take the hard-line approach that is necessary toward Iran. In order to gain Russian approval of the United Nations sanctions, the pending sale of Russian S-300 surface to air missiles to Iran were exempted from the sanctions.
Despite these efforts, however, both parties of Congress appear to remain committed to passing the sanctions that this administration has consistently sought to dilute. Rep Mike Pence (R-IN) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) have both spoken out against the latest round of sanctions and have promised to pass the “crippling sanctions” that were supposed to have come from the UN. In support of placing sanctions on Iran’s oil industry, the heart of its economy, Rep. Pence said, “Congress must swiftly enact punitive economic sanctions against Iran while there is still time. Only decisive American action can force Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.” On the other side of the aisle, Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA) insists that Congress approve the tough sanctions despite this administration’s attempt to water down the bill. Rep. Sherman noted, “The administration doesn’t carry out the laws that are on the books, and they want the new law to be as weak and loophole-ridden as possible.”
The final bill is expected to pass before the July 4 recess.
Ricky Trotman is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm