Iran

Sens. Rand Paul, Barbara Boxer Working on Postponing Iran Sanctions Votes

New Republican Congress wants to vote on new sanctions now, before talks between Iran and the West end, and some Democrats agree.

|

euronews

The Congress is finally trying to step up its role in foreign policy, not to reassert its powers of war making or defining "Offenses against the Laws of Nation," which it's lost over the last half century, but to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and specifically to place new sanctions on Iran. It's not a surprising step for the new Republican Congress, although some of the "infighting" may be new.

Hawks in Congress, Republican and Democrat, worry about talks between Iran and the U.S., the United Kingdom, China, Russia, France, and Germany over the Iranian government's nuclear development program. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) sponsored legislation that would trigger wider sanctions on Iran if negotiators on all sides didn't hit certain benchmarks by July.  Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) are now working on legislation that would trigger votes in Congress on new sanctions against Iran only if the country were found to be violating agreements it's made in the nuclear talks.

The aim of the negotiations is to impose limits on Iran's nuclear program that would prevent it from developing a nuclear weapon. Hawks in Israel, which likely has nuclear weapons and is also the closest potential target at which Iran might point nuclear warheads, worry about the ongoing talks too.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned March 3 address to Congress is supposed to focus on those fears—Netanyahu, facing re-election on March 17, is trying to frame the speech as a "moral obligation." The White House says it was not informed of Speaker John Boehner's invitation to Netanyahu in advance, something Boehner and Netanyahu have both faced criticism for, and that President Obama won't meet with Netanyahu when he comes to Washington in March.

Sanctions, even if they were passed by Congress, are unlikely to be signed by the president, whose administration has participated in the talks for years and has warned against premature sanctions. Nevertheless, the move can play into the hands of hardliners in Iran, who share the goal of wanting to scuttle the negotiations between Iran and the West. Proposals like the one by Paul and Boxer can help focus the White House and other participants in the negotiations on results. An op-ed by the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany, and the European Union urged against imposing new sanctions but re-iterated support for the same if Iran proved unwilling to agree to a deal on the West's terms, highlighting how small the divide between moderates and hardliners can actually be.

NEXT: Cathy Young on Charlie Hebdo and the Horrible History of Suppressing 'Blasphemy'

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Meh. The sanctions don’t really matter especially with the price of oil where it is. You could drive a truck through these sanctions. The forever “imminent” US attack on Iran is also never going to happen. It’s up to you Israel. You’ll have to save the world, again.

  2. “Israel, which likely has nuclear weapons and is also the closest potential target at which Iran might point nuclear warheads,”

    I’ve heard it suggested more than once that a more plausible threat would be an attack on saudi oilfields. Which would be far more complex from a ‘retaliatory’ scenario as well.

    Killing jews might feel good to the Iranians, but from the POV of actually being a threat to Western Interests? its not the #1 concern.

    1. Russia and Iran just signed a military deal, including ‘anti-terror’ cooperation. Saudi Arabia may be Sunni, but their oilfield dwelling denizens are actually Shia (like Iran) from what I gather.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Tehran explained their fellow Saudi Shia how evil their Sunny monarchy is. And Putin, being generous Santa Clause that he is, would make sure that they would find a few ballistic missiles in their sandbox.

      Fireworks at Aramco for everybody!

      1. Sounds great to me. May all our enemies slaughter each other.

  3. What are the odds that talks with Iran will produce anything but wasted time and effort? What could the Iranians possibly want more than nukes, so that they would be willing to give them up? Of course they want nukes more: they are totalitarian religious nuts. Every totalitarian religious nut wants nukes.

    And once they get them, Saudi Arabia dips into their savings, buys the tech from Pakistan, and joins the club as well.

    1. There are morons who seriously believe that 1) Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful 2) that negations are worth it to prevent the ever-imminent NEOCON ATTACK ON IRAN and 3) (I shit you not) that a nuclear-armed Iran would be the best bet for Mid-East peace.

      Peacenazis are dangerous lunatic fundamentalists.

      1. you’re not a fan of mutually assured destruction?

        1. No. I don’t do ‘all in’. Anyone who is a fan of MAD is either ignorant of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Oko Incident or is an even bigger fan of the Fallout series than I am.

        2. Nice story, tell The Reader’s Digest!

          Seriously though, conservatards like toxic truly believe that the Iranian leaders are suicidal and intend to nuke Israel with the full knowledge that the retaliation would literally wipe Iran off the map.

          1. I’ve always wondered about the “mad mullahs” argument. After all, the Holy Land is holy to Muslims too; I can’t see them nuking it.

            Aside from that, if they really are that crazy then sanctions and threats of military attack are an utter waste of time.

            And starting a war, run by Barack Obama? Fuck, now who’s talking crazy?

            1. I’d like to see what this crash in oil prices doe first. It will be amusing to watch Iran try to build a little hegemony in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq with no money.

            2. I figure Iran wants nukes to prevent the US from invading them on some dubious pretext. It’s not like we’ve attacked two of their neighbors or anything…

              1. I figure Iran wants nukes to prevent the US from invading them on some dubious pretext.

                We have all the non-dubious pre-text in the world ie protecting the rights of Americans. I am really not interested in their motivations. Iran must be knee-capped regardless.

                it’s based in xenophobia.

                DAFUQ?

                1. the concept of the evil and subhuman/irrational foreign “other”.

                  Look at the discussion of Russia vs Iran. Both petro-states, both threats to peace. We don’t have an “insane russian” stereotype where they’re willing to explode their neighbors in nuclear fire.

                  1. We don’t have an “insane russian” stereotype where they’re willing to explode their neighbors in nuclear fire.

                    We do have a stereotype of a cagey, violent, and chauvanistic Russian. It’s based on reality, just as the stereotype of Iran’s fanatical government comes from its actions in REALITY.

            3. it’s based in xenophobia.

            4. “… if they really are that crazy then sanctions and threats of military attack are an utter waste of time.”

              No EES, you don’t understand, the Iranian leadership isn’t afraid to start an unwinnable war and get themselves and most or all of their fellow countrypersons killed, but they are afraid of sanctions.

              Don’t you listen to your government or the mainstream news?

              Sheesh.

              1. Sanctions don’t just work on fear but on resource denial. Can’t fight the war you can’t fund. The Iran sanctions however have giant holes in them.

                1. Sanctions hurt the people, not the government. the government then blames America and sanctions for the pains of the people.

                  1. They also hurt governments, whether you want to admit it or not. Japan’s imperial government was damaged by FDR’s ban on selling them oil, one of the few good things he did. The government can blame America anyway. Sanctions have their place.

                  2. This seems to continue to be the case, Spencer.

            5. I’ve always wondered about the “mad mullahs” argument.

              The Iranian regime consists of a sect called “Twelvers.” Look them up. They are very much into what Christians call the Apocalypse, except they believe that they can bring it about with a big war, and after that everything will be wonderful.

          2. I’m not a conservative, stupid.

            First, it’s clear to any rational observer that Iran’s leadership is pretty crazy and does include some serious crazies like Ahmadinejad, a believer in the ‘Hidden Imam’. Further, even if Iran didn’t use its nukes it would be a massive blow against freedom. Iran would have even more impunity terrorizing the west. I guess you hate freedom of speech and want more Rushdie’s.

            Iran is a mortal threat to America, nukes or no.

            1. I didn’t say you’re a conservative. I said you’re a conservatard.

              1. finally, clarity on the important issues.

              2. OMG SO CLEVER. Christ you’re like a paragon of twaddle.

          3. Personally, I am willing to take the pronouncements of foreign nations re: their intentions regarding their neighbors at face value.

            If Iran didn’t periodically proclaim its eagerness to wipe Israel off the map, I might be less concerned about their nuclear program.

            1. it’s amazing how an animal that feels threatened will behave.
              Dont get me wrong- the leadership of Iran sucks. However, so does the leadership of china, Mexico, France, etc.

              We need a foreign policy that focuses on trade and peace- not threats and war.

              1. Yes. Iran’s repeated threats to other countries have led to negative consequences for it, although insufficient negative consequences.

                1. was this before or after the USA backed a horrible dictator and tried to support a counterrevolution?

                  1. The Shah was not that bad, and an improvement over his predecessor, and America’s role in putting him in power was marginal compared to Britain’s, which amazingly has avoided Iran’s rage. In any event none of that justifies or even makes rational what Iran has done since. Other countries have had horrible US-backed dictators removed and not resorted to funding anti-American terror or assaulting our free speech rights ex Rushdie.

            2. I have no doubt that the Iranian government would like to enact regime change in Israel. I do doubt that they’re looking to turn the Holy Land–and themselves–into a glowing pile of ashes.

              Hell, our government talks about regime change all the time, and sometimes even acts on it. That doesn’t make it right (for either government); it just makes it not particularly shocking.

              1. I have no doubt that the Iranian government would like to enact regime change in Israel. I do doubt that they’re looking to turn the Holy Land–and themselves–into a glowing pile of ashes.

                They’ve repeatedly said they want to annihilate Israel, and the government has actors that are much crazier than others. I’m going to take the cautious approach over ‘I doubt such and such’.

            3. R C Dean,

              Please watch the brief video “Apologize to the World Mr. Wallace and Return that Emmy”:

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onNzrNEFs1E

              I think President Ahmadinejad was as corrupt and authoritarian as many others here do, but he did not threaten to destroy Israel by military force as has been oft repeated.

              If he did then I want to see the evidence so I can alter my opinion.

              1. So that still leaves the oodles of other incidents where Iran threatened Israel with mass destruction and death.

  4. We should treat Iran like we treat china. That’s a HUGE market for American goods and services. trade will bring liberalization.

    Also, as we improve relations with Iran it will push the Saudis as well, since they are in competition for the power of the region.

    Iran could be a powerful and stabilizing force in the region.

    1. Iran should stop funding attacks on America first.

      1. blah. chicken or egg.

        Creating a peaceful and working relationship with Iran will sort this out.

        ECONOMICS IN ADVANCE!

        1. Trade is not a panacea.

          Iran could be a powerful and stabilizing force in the region.

          Only if they overthrow their government.

          1. That happens with trade- or it becomes against their interests to do anything to disrupt the peace.

            Trade isn’t a panacea, but it is as close as we get. It works wonders.

            1. There was lots of trade in Europe before WW1. It’s great, it’s not that great. Iran is not China. Like I said, they have to overthrow their government. It is wildly inappropriate for the USG to treat a viciously anti-American government like Iran’s as any other government has.

              Iran’s government is too cray cray to respond to such incentives.

              1. someone’s got to be the bigger man (um, government).

                why not us? why not now? why not be a beacon on the hill of freedom and nonintervention?

                1. Bigger? I’d rather be smart and use my reason than resort to platitudes. No thanks to the religion of ‘non-interventionism’.

                  1. your reason tells you to continue a policy that has zero real world positive results vs. a policy that has a history of success?
                    Doesn’t sound like reason to me.

                    1. zero real world positive results

                      I don’t want to continue putting faux-sanctions on Iran. I’d like to try real sanctions please.

                    2. like the ones we have on cuba?

                      What would “Real” sanctions look like? Like the ones we had on Iraq?

                2. “why not us? why not now? why not be a beacon on the hill of freedom and nonintervention?”

                  Why do you hate America? Why do you want my shares of Raytheon, McDonnell-Douglas, et cetera to lose value?
                  What of the families of their employees?
                  I suppose you’re fine with the idea of starving, homeless children.

                  1. Is there a way to just make YOUR shares lose value while allowing everyone else’s to stay the same?

        2. Creating a peaceful and working relationship with Iran will sort this out.

          I don’t know. Saudi Arabia is our biggest ally in the Islamic middle east. Trade and a peaceful, working relationship has existed between our countries for many years, and most Saudis still hate our guts.

          Look at Bin Laden and the 9/11 perps.

          1. yeah, but iran is different. It has a different history- it has a large middle class, etc.

            In Saudi Arabia we are seen as allies of the monarchy, which is often seen as an enemy of the people.

            1. “It’s different this time! Because stuff!”

              1. no, each nation is different. equating Iran with Saudi Arabia is foolish and ignorant.

            2. Iran is just as much of a dictatorship as Saudi Arabia is.

              1. your ignorance is showing.

    2. Iran could be a powerful and stabilizing force in the region.

      Following a blood-in-the-streets revolution that exterminates its current ruling class, perhaps.

    3. Iran could be a powerful and stabilizing force in the region.

      Seriously, do you have any evidence in support of the notion that their leadership has any interest whatsoever in playing such a role?

      1. YES. Please see current situation in Yemen.

        1. You mean the country where an Iranian-sponsored rebel movement overthrew the government, and has pushed the tribes to fight with AQAP? Is this for real? Are your posts performance art?

          1. you know the iranian backed groups are fighting AGAINST AQAP, right? is that what you meant?

            Is that not move to being a stabilizing force?

            1. Are you smoking crack?

              Yemen is 60-65% Sunni and 35-40% Shiite. A Shiite rebel group takes over the government begins openly Shiite state. The Sunnis flock to the ISIS fighters opposed to them.

              On what fucking planet is that stabilizing?

              Christ, I’m not inclined to think there’s a practical alternative to accepting Iranian nuclear ambitions as a fait accompli. But, when you start spouting ridiculous crap like this, it’s hard to take the non-interventionist camp seriously.

        2. Spencer, the Iranians backed the group that just overthrew the Yemeni government. How the fuck is that a stabilizing force?

  5. “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned March 3 address to Congress is supposed to focus on those fears….”

    I wonder if he will display a rather cartoonish picture of a bomb the way he did for the United Nations’ General Assembly:

    http://www.theguardian.com/wor…..on-bomb-un

  6. the move can play into the hands of hardliners in Iran, who share the goal of wanting to scuttle the negotiations between Iran and the West.

    So… this is kind of like Star Trek VI?

  7. In all seriousness, Netanyahu is playing the United States government like a fiddle. He has a well-documented history of simply ignoring or disrespecting US presidents since the 1990s. Why should he? All he has to do is call up AIPAC and Congress will do whatever the fuck he wants.

    And it’s not like Israel will ever lose a dollar of subsidies because of him (despite their absolutely booming economy)…

    1. How is he ‘disrespecting’ the US president? And why shouldn’t he given the soft-on-Iran approach taken by every US president since Reagan stepped down?

  8. Man, it sure is amusing watching the cretinous Obama sputter with impotent rage over the Netanyahu ivitation, while he laughably tries to couch his personal animosities in the language of diplomatic protocol. Did you really think you could do and say anything you wanted to and there wouldn’t be any repercussions? Think again, asshole.

    Having said that, it sure will be a wonderful relief to eventually have a normal, pro-American, pro-west president once again, and hopefully restore some sense of normalcy and stability.

  9. “Babs Bouncer” has finally found someone of equal intelligence to work with.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.