Influential GOP senator planning to renew Iran sanctions law

Republican US Senator Bob Corker is seeking to extend an Iran sanctions law, despite opposition from the Obama administration, which considers any such move a violation of the nuclear agreement. 

Corker, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Wednesday that if Congress does not extend the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), which expires at the end of 2016, “you have nothing to snap back [at Iran].”

Pro-Israel Senators Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez introduced a bill earlier this year to extend the ISA for 10 more years.

US Senators Robert Menendez (right) and Mark Kirk

Iran and the P5+1 group of countries – the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany – announced the conclusion of nuclear negotiations in the Austrian capital, Vienna, on July 14, following weeks of intensive talks.

The US Congress is reviewing the Iran nuclear agreement and is likely to vote on it in September.

Most Republicans oppose the nuclear accord, but they need a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress to override a possible presidential veto, and to reach that threshold, Republicans need Democratic support.

The White House has launched a sales pitch to the Republican-controlled Congress, which remains skeptical of the nuclear conclusion with Iran, and has 60 days to vote to either approve or disapprove of it.

“My guess is, by the way, that one of the first things Congress will do when we finish this debate, I would say give it 60 days, we will pass that extension,” Corker told reporters after a briefing with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

“Even though Iran says, you know, that they believe anything to that effect would be in violation [of the agreement.]”

The Obama administration has opposed the renewal of the sanctions law, but Congress is leaving no stone unturned to sabotage the nuclear pact.

During a Foreign Relations Committee hearing last month, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew staid any such move would be “premature.”

US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (AFP photo)

According to the text of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran will be recognized by the United Nations as a nuclear power and will continue its uranium enrichment program.

But some restrictions will be placed on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the removal of sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake urged the Obama administration to stand up to Tehran and support Congress to reauthorize the sanctions law.

“We are assured by the administration that under the JCPOA, Congress retains all tools, including sanctions, should Iran involve itself in terrorist activity in the region. However, the plain text the JCPOA does not seem to indicate this,” he added.

“The degree to which the administration has resisted even the suggestion that Congress reauthorize the Iran Sanctions Act, for example … makes us question our willingness to confront Iran when it really matters down the road.”

From left: US Republican Senators Bob Corker, John Cornyn, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, and Senator Dick Durbin pose with ahead of a meeting at the US Capitol on March 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Analysts say Republicans are opposing the nuclear agreement to avoid angering the pro-Israel lobby and preventing their Democratic rivals from getting any political advantage by resolving the Iranian nuclear issue.

By Press TV