Iran Sanctions Act Reauthorization

September 15, 2016


Our policy on Iran.

As Congress considers various proposals to reauthorize the Iran Sanctions Act, international inspectors have once again confirmed that Iran continues to comply with its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (or JCPOA) that has blocked each of its pathways to a nuclear weapon. More than a year after its adoption, the agreement continues to gather praise by growing numbers of US and Israeli security experts as having made both countries and the world safer.

J Street believes that the United States should retain the full range of existing authorities to reimpose sanctions on Iran should it be found in violation of the deal and is therefore urging Congress to reauthorize the Iran Sanctions Act, which is set to expire on December 31 of this year.

At the same time, we believe it is equally critical that ISA reauthorization be done in a way that reinforces US adherence to the JCPOA, rather than undermining it as opponents here and in Iran are hoping. Most importantly, this requires that any reauthorization be “clean” – free of of any new requirements for when the President must apply or can waive sanctions or other “poison pill” provisions that could prevent the United States from upholding its commitments under the agreement.

It is also important to note that any ISA reauthorization that extends the law beyond October 2023 would stretch the life of the act beyond Transition Day – the date when the United States must seek to legislatively repeal its nuclear sanctions on Iran if inspectors determine that Iran remains in full compliance with its obligations. In addition to setting up a potentially fraught legislative battle seven years from now, extending the law beyond Transition Day will inevitably cast further doubt on whether the Unites States intends to uphold its end of the deal, increasing uncertainty among foreign businesses and providing more fodder for hardline deal opponents in Iran.

As such, it is especially important that any reauthorization that extends the life of ISA beyond Transition Day be accompanied by statements and actions – on the part of both the administration and Congress – clearly indicating that the United States intends to abide by the agreement. This could take the form of further action by the US Government to ensure that businesses and banks receive due assurance that they will not face US legal repercussions for engaging in transactions allowed under the agreement – and by statements of support for such actions by JCPOA-supporting Members of Congress.

Lawmakers should also vocally oppose moves by JCPOA opponents to violate or undermine the ongoing implementation of the agreement, such as attempts to outlaw or prevent the sale of American commercial aircraft to Iran.