U.S. President Barack Obama and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (not pictured) speak during a press conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 2, 2016. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
LOS ANGELES – The White House threatened presidential vetoes for two Iran-related bills on Wednesday, citing the “perception” that their passage would impact the nuclear accord reached between Iran and world powers last year.
One bill, the Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act, would have required the US government to publicly detail how Iran’s leadership acquires and uses its assets.
A second, titled the Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act, took aim at the sort of transfer of cash payments to Iran that has caused controversy in recent weeks.
The Obama administration expressed understanding for the first bill, but mocked the second as “an ill-advised attempt to respond to a problem – so-called “ransom” payments to Iran – that does not exist, in a way that would undermine US obligations and ultimately benefit Iran at the expense of the United States.”
A massive cash transfer – timed alongside implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action last January, as well as the release of four American political prisoners in Iran – was meant to end a decades-old Hague tribunal settlement that the administration says would have cost the US far more than it paid should litigation have continued.
But the administration also said the transfer was used as “leverage” to ensure the release of Tehran’s hostages.
The first bill, on Iranian asset reporting, would challenge the JCPOA itself.
“This bill’s required public postings also may be perceived by Iran and likely our Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) partners as an attempt to undermine the fulfillment of our commitments, in turn impacting the continued viability of this diplomatic arrangement that peacefully and verifiably prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” a statement from the White House read.
Critics of the administration on Capitol Hill argue that the president is too timid to stand up to the Iranians at risk of compromising what he considers to be his crowning foreign policy achievement: the Iran nuclear deal In addition, the US government began granting licenses to Airbus on Wednesday to allow the company to begin selling its planes to Iran – also over objections in Congress.
“It’s not surprising to hear the administration has once again made a political decision to appease Iran at the expense of our national security,” said Congressman Peter Roskam (R-Illinois).
“Iran Air continues to use commercial airplanes to support the brutal Assad regime and supply the Islamic Republic’s international terror network. Thankfully there is a still a long way to go and many more hurdles to overcome before Iran can actually take delivery of these planes – and thankfully Congress is committed to making the process as difficult and expensive as possible.”