Statement on Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act

October 16, 2009

J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami released the following statement upon news that House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman will mark up the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act later this month:

J Street supports the thoughtful and nuanced approach to Iran sanctions legislation articulated yesterday by Chairman Howard Berman.

We agree that it is a vital interest of the United States, Israel and the entire Middle East to ensure that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons.

Further, we agree with the Chairman’s stated policy preferences for achieving that objective.

J Street’s first choice – as it is for President Obama and Chairman Berman – is to resolve the nuclear issue through diplomatic means.  We too strongly support the Obama Administration’s efforts to engage Iran and hope for promising follow-through to the first round of talks held in Geneva on October 1.

However, should engagement not produce the desired results, we too believe that the United States should seek hard-hitting multilateral sanctions through the United Nations Security Council.  If that course of action proves impossible, then the U.S. should work to build the broadest possible international coalition to back such steps.

The imposition of unilateral sanctions, without UN approval or the support of allies, should be, as the Chairman himself says, a last resort.

J Street supports the Chairman’s intention to mark up the bill on October 28th and to give the President further time to pursue our preferred options.

As we have said before, J Street does not oppose the imposition of sanctions per se. We prefer, as do Chairman Berman and President Obama, attempting to achieve the desired result through diplomatic engagement and multilateral action.