Bipartisan Bill Would Boost Sanctions if Iran Violates Deal

Monday, 25 Nov 2013 11:13 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Key Democrats and Republicans have decided not to fight a deal with Iran slammed as a giveaway to Tehran's mullahs — and instead are preparing a bipartisan bill to redouble sanctions if Iran isn't dismantling its nuclear program in six months, The Hill reported Monday.

"Everybody has made their peace with the fact that there was an agreement," a senior official with a Washington-based pro-Israel group told The Hill. "And the focus now shifts to what a final agreement needs to look like."

Members of Congress, unwilling to undermine the White House's diplomacy, are still determined not to let Iran, one of the world's biggest state sponsors of terrorism, retain the ability to build nuclear weapons, The Hill reported.

"We need to have some sort of insurance policy that Iran's nuclear infrastructure is being dismantled after six months," a senior Republican Senate aide told The Hill. "Otherwise, the sanctions come back in spades."

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who over the weekend blasted the interim agreement as a "historic mistake," appeared to reign in the rhetoric.

"It is true that the international pressure which we applied was partly successful and has led to a better result than what was originally planned, but this is still a bad deal," he told the Knesset, JTA reported.

"It reduces the pressure on Iran without receiving anything tangible in return, and the Iranians who laughed all the way to the bank are themselves saying that this deal has saved them," Netanyahu said.

He said he was dispatching his national security adviser, Yossi Cohen, to Washington to consult on the deal.

"That agreement must lead to one result: the dismantling of Iran's military nuclear capability," Netanyahu said. "I remind you that only last week, during the talks, the leaders of Iran repeated their commitment to destroy the state of Israel, and I reiterate here today my commitment, as prime minister of Israel, to prevent them from achieving the ability to do so."

The imminent bill would focus on getting Iran to dismantle its nuclear program, which the current six-month deal does not do, The Hill reported.

Critics charge the weekend deal freezes Iran's nuclear program where it is but weakens international sanctions, allowing a measure of economic recovery in which to restart an illegal nuclear weapons program later.

Under the agreement, Iran must stop enriching uranium beyond 5 percent and dilute or convert its stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium, which is relatively easy to further enrich to weapons-grade material.

But Tehran will be allowed to keep enriching uranium at lower levels, which critics warn still gives the virulently anti-American and anti-Israeli theocracy the ability to build nuclear weapons.

"They're on the verge of a breakout when it comes to producing a nuclear weapon," South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told Newsmax on Monday.

The sanctions effort is led by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who co-authored Iran sanctions legislation that sailed through the Senate 100-0 two years ago.

They have introduced amendments to the defense authorization bill that call for new sanctions if Iran fails to meet its obligations under the interim deal, while spelling out conditions Iran must meet for long-term relief.

The two senators "will be working over the Senate recess to craft a bipartisan sanctions bill that establishes a mandatory fail-safe to this interim agreement, ensuring sanctions come back in spades if Iran cheats during the next six months or if Iran"s nuclear infrastructure is not being dismantled at the end of the six-month period," a congressional aide told JTA in an email.

"We should expect this legislation to go to the president's desk for signature before the end of the year."


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