Iran Nuclear Deal Advocates Prevail in Amending Legislation to Protect JCPOA

May 25, 2017

J Street Vice President of Government Affairs Dylan Williams released the following statement today in response to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations’ amendment of key provisions of the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act (S.722) to ensure its compliance with US obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear activities.

“Today, the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee made important amendments to remove two problematic provisions from legislation on countering Iran’s destabilizing non-nuclear activities.

J Street applauds the leadership and members of the committee for making the changes necessary to ensure that the bill does not violate the important and successful JCPOA nuclear agreement, which has blocked Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon and made Americans safer.  As a result of the changes, we no longer oppose the legislation.

We are pleased to have taken a leading role in advocating for these changes.

At the same time, we note the concerns of security experts – including former military officials and combat veterans – about the bill’s purely symbolic designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist group. This designation, while putting no new meaningful financial pressure on the IRGC, could provoke a negative reaction that harms US personnel and counter-extremism efforts in the region.

It is well established that the IRGC is responsible for fomenting and carrying out acts of international violence and terror. That is why it is already rightly subject to significant US sanctions. J Street continues to urge senators to work with security experts and the administration to formulate a carefully calibrated approach to meaningfully counter IRGC activity. This approach should be modeled on the steps that both the Obama and Trump administrations have taken under existing law to counter the Iranian regime’s many egregious activities.

It is also important for lawmakers to recognize the major defeat that the IRGC and other hardliners just suffered in the Iranian elections. While the elections were highly constrained, their outcome was significant. They provided a new mandate of support for the president who secured the JCPOA, has criticized anti-American rhetoric and has expressed openness to further diplomatic engagement. In this context, senators should weigh the merits of passing largely symbolic legislation to achieve objectives that might be better met through future negotiations.

For these reasons, while J Street is no longer opposed to this legislation, we will not lend it our support.”

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