In response to many reports in recent weeks that the U.S. government is succumbing to what is known as Iran’s “charm offensive,” the Republican Jewish Coalition issued a release calling on the U.S. Senate Banking Committee to tighten, not weaken, sanctions against Iran.
“When the Senate reconvenes next week, we hope that Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson and Majority Leader Harry Reid will press forward on strong sanctions against Iran. We cannot soften the U.S. position on sanctions unless and until the Iranian regime stops talking and takes measurable, concrete action to end the pursuit of nuclear weapons,” RJC executive director Matt Brooks stated in a press release dated Friday, Oct. 25.
In July, the House of Representatives passed a stiff bill to increase sanctions on the Iranian regime unless it demonstrates it has ceased its race to create nuclear weapons. The House sanctions bill would slash Iranian exports almost entirely.
But last month the administration was successful in getting the relevant Senate committee to hold off on its own hearing on similar proposed legislation. The reason given for the delay was “the administration wants more time to give negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program a chance,” according to Reuters.
“I don’t understand why you would weaken the sanctions now, or you would not strengthen the sanctions,” Elliot Abrams, an aide on the Middle East to former President George W. Bush, told the Reuters Washington Summit on Thursday. “The sanctions are what brought the Iranians to the table.”
And it isn’t only the opposition that believes strict sanctions have played a big role in forcing Iran to seek relief.
Just a few months ago, U.S. Treasury Under-Secretary David Cohen said that the sanctions were having a significant impact on the Iranian economy. Many firms have dropped their business relationships entirely with Iran because the cost of doing business there became so great.
But the combination of Iran thus far not having been deterred from moving forward on its quest for nuclear weapons, plus that charm offensive personified by the new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, seems to have convinced this U.S. administration to try to end the stand-off through more negotiations.
The next round of talks regarding Iran’s race towards nuclear weapons will take place in Geneva on November 7 – 8, with the P5+1 group, which includes U.K., U.S., France, China, Russia and Germany.
Israel has repeatedly called for the world to remain firm in its approach to Iran and to maintain and strengthen the current sanctions until Iran demonstrably and definitively dismantles its nuclear weapons program.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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