This bill would reimpose and escalate sanctions on Iran if ongoing negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 failed to culminate in a final agreement. It would also institute a series of congressional oversight measures on the negotiations as well as on any final agreement or extension to the negotiations’ governing document, the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), signed on 11/24/13 and extended on 7/19/14 and 11/24/14.
Specifically, if the P5+1 and Iran reached a final accord or agreed to another JPOA extension by the 6/30/15 deadline, the Obama administration would be required to deliver 2 documents to Congress within 5 days: the full text of the agreement and a report from the secretary of state assessing the U.S. government’s ability to verify Iran’s compliance. Also, the treasury secretary would be required to deliver a report to Congress analyzing the benefits of past and future sanctions waivers to Iran’s economy. After delivery of such materials, the administration would be prohibited from waiving, deferring, or suspending any sanctions on Iran, including those outlined in the JPOA, until Congress had spent at least 30 days in continuous session to review the documents.
In addition, the bill included a detailed section listing the policy goals of future legislation were the final agreement not to comport with congressional expectations and preferences. First, the section affirmed U.S. policy to deter Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities, supporting all available instruments of power to accomplish that goal. Second, it stated that Iran has no inherent right to uranium enrichment or reprocessing. Third, it outlined a series of goals for all international negotiations with Iran: reversing the development of Iran’s nuclear program, bringing Iran into compliance with all past UNSC resolutions, full access to Iran’s nuclear program by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and requiring Iranian compliance with all earlier IAEA agreements. Finally, the U.S. would continue with the sanctions vis-à-vis Iran’s human rights record and its support for the Syrian government; sanctions would also be maintained on any individual, government, or organization that aided Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
If the P5+1 and Iran failed to reach a final status agreement or to extend the JPOA within 5 days of the 6/30 deadline, the bill stipulated, then sanctions would be reimposed, and either strengthened or expanded each month through 12/2015. The president would be able to waive the reimposition and expansion of sanctions during this period if he certified to Congress that it was in the interest of national security, necessary for reaching a long-term deal with Iran, and that Iran was neither advancing its nuclear weapons program nor violating any interim agreements.
The bill’s principal architects, Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), also designed the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 (S. 1881 of 12/19/13), escalating and expanding sanctions on Iran if it violated the JPOA. The 2 bills share many of the same cosponsors including AIPAC and other major pro-Israel organizations.
Pres. Obama pledged to veto the bill, as well as any other sanctions-related measures, saying that these would disrupt the negotiations and threaten the prospects of reaching a long-term, viable deal.
On the day the bill was introduced, Menendez and 9 other Democratic cosponsors signed on to a letter to Obama in which they pledged, in support of the administration, not to vote on the measure until at least 3/24/15, at the then deadline for the P5+1 and Iran to reach a political accord. In early 4/2015, Kirk agreed to delay a vote on the bill until after the 6/30 deadline for a final agreement.
On 1/29, the Senate Banking Committee held a markup of the bill and members proposed numerous amendments. Those accepted have been incorporated into the summary presented above. Below is a list of amendments considered, but not adopted.