TEHRAN – Based on the nuclear deal signed between Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) in Geneva on November 24 no new sanctions should be imposed against Iran, however some hawks within the U.S. Congress have been pushing for new sanctions measures against Tehran.
The Obama administration has been campaigning against new sanctions and even threatened to veto any sanctions legislation by the Congress.
Nader Entessar, a South Alabama University professor, says the U.S. credibility in upholding its commitments will be seriously hurt if the Congress approves new sanctions against Iran.
“If U.S. Congress goes ahead and passes a new sanctions law, it will be a serious blow both to the Geneva interim agreement and to the credibility of the U.S. government to uphold its commitments,” Entessar tells the Mehr News Agency.
Following is the interview:
Q: How can any new sanctions by the U.S. Congress affect the Geneva nuclear deal?
A: If U.S. Congress goes ahead and passes a new sanctions law, it will be a serious blow both to the Geneva interim agreement and to the credibility of the U.S. government to uphold its commitments. It will most likely create a wedge between the United States and the other countries in the 5+1 coalition.
Q: What is the role of the Israeli lobby in pushing for new sanctions legislation against Iran?
A: There is no doubt that the Israeli lobby in the United States had hoped for the collapse of the Geneva negotiations. When that did not materialize, the Lobby, through its allies in Congress, launched a drive to undermine the Geneva agreement. However, it is important to note that there are also other elements in the United States that have their own anti-Iran agenda and would not want to see any improvements in U.S.-Iran relations. Lastly, we should not underestimate the negative role played by some Arab countries in the Persian Gulf in this affair. In other words, there are allies of convenience that have banded together to undermine the integrity of the Geneva agreement.
Q: What could Congress do if Obama vetoes sanctions legislation?
A: Any presidential veto of a legislation can be overridden by a two-thirds majority of votes in both houses of U.S. Congress. Historically, about ten percent of presidential votes have been overridden by Congress. However, because of the strong bi-partisan support for anti-Iran legislation, it is very likely that if Obama vetoes a possible new sanctions legislation, U.S. Congress will muster enough votes to overturn President Obama's veto. However, if the Obama administration is serious about improving U.S.-Iran relations, it can put pressure on some key Democratic members of Congress to change their minds, but I am not sure if the Obama administration will have the wherewithal to confront Congress over Iran issues.
Q: Do you believe that the differences between Congress and the White House are real?
A: There is no question that there are tactical differences between the White House and Congress on how to deal with Iran. While the White House prefers to follow a "crack-and-stick" policy, Congress has generally favored an "iron fist" policy towards Iran. Therefore, there are tactical differences between the Obama administration and Congress on how to deal with Iran. However, the strategic goals of the two branches of the U.S. government are not drastically different from each other. While Congress demands total surrender by Iran, the White House is willing to allow Iran to have a modicum of enrichment capability.