Iran sanctions bill renewed without Obama’s signature

“This administration has made clear that an extension of the Iran Sanctions Act, while unnecessary, is entirely consistent with our commitments in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).”

December 15, 2016 18:07
2 minute read.
us iran flag

A staff member removes the Iranian flag from the stage during the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria July 14, 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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WASHINGTON – A bill which provides Congress with an architecture for sanctioning Iran over its nuclear ambitions was renewed into law on Thursday, but without US President Barack Obama’s signature, reflecting the outgoing president’s cautious approach to the Islamic Republic since forging an agreement over its program last year.

That agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is meant to govern Iran’s nuclear work for over a decade. In exchange, Iran receives sanctions relief from the international community, and specifically from the United States, through the suspension of the Iran Sanctions Act.

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The sanctions act remained on the books, however, and Congress overwhelmingly voted this month to renew the act so that – in the event Iran violates the deal – it will have sanctions in place to snap back to.

“This administration has made clear that an extension of the Iran Sanctions Act, while unnecessary, is entirely consistent with our commitments in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” the White House said on the president’s decision. “Consistent with this longstanding position, the extension of the Iran Sanctions Act is becoming law without the president’s signature.”

In response to the US sanctions move, Iran ordered its scientists on Tuesday to start developing systems for nuclear-powered marine vessels. That action by Tehran is expected to stoke tensions with Washington, already heightened by President- elect Donald Trump’s vow to disrupt the deal.

“Extension of the Iran Sanctions Act, which was in place at the time the JCPOA was negotiated and remains so today, does not affect in any way our ability to fulfill our commitments in the JCPOA,” the White House statement reads.

US Secretary of State John Kerry also emphasized on Thursday that an extension of the existing law would not affect the scope of sanctions relief Iran is currently receiving under the deal.

“The administration continues to have all of the necessary authorities to waive the relevant sanctions, with or without the extension of the ISA,” Kerry said. “I will continue to exercise those authorities, as we committed to do in the JCPOA and have done since implementation day [of the nuclear accord] almost one year ago.”

“I have communicated to Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif and to our P5+1 counterparts that while the existing waivers are unaffected by the extension of ISA’s sunset and do not need to be renewed at this time, I have done so today to ensure maximum clarity,” Kerry continued.

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