U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew on Sunday at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference reiterated the Obama administration’s opposition to new Iran sanctions during the interim nuclear deal, and said the temporary relief that the six-month interim agreement gives Iran has not undone the impact of existing sanctions.
New sanctions could derail the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers and “splinter” the international effort that has made the current sanctions effective, according to Lew. “No amount of U.S. sanctions would have the same crippling power” without international backing, he said.
Additionally, “If the moment comes that we have to use force [against Iran], the world has to understand that we did everything possible to achieve change through diplomacy,” Lew said.
The treasury secretary said that the “vast majority of our sanctions remain firmly in place” and that those sanctions provide a “powerful incentive for Iran to negotiate.” He stressed that the oil and financial sanctions on Iran—what he called the “core architecture” of the sanctions— remain fully in effect.
Economic sanctions “have crippled Iran’s economy on many fronts,” including the fact that Iran’s rial currently has lost 60 percent of its value against the dollar, said Lew. He noted that when the interim deal expires, “so does the relief” on Iran, and that the current $7 billion in financial relief would only continue to flow to Iran if the country demonstrates week-by-week compliance with the interim deal.
“This is not a case of trust and verify,” Lew said. “This is a case of verify everything.”
Yet Lew acknowledged that America is “under no illusions of who we’re dealing with,” citing Iran’s support for terror groups such as Hezbollah and its failure to live up to past promises.