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Conditional Sanctions and Repeal Authority: A Mechanism for Legislative-Executive Cooperation on Negotiations with Iran

The goal of preventing a nuclear Iran has always been a bipartisan one. As diplomatic efforts shift to negotiating a final deal with Iran, following the recently announced interim agreement, maintaining that bipartisanship, especially in the form of cooperation between the White House and Capitol Hill, will be crucial to their success.

Both parties have supported the use of ever-stricter sanctions to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. In a gridlocked Congress, bills containing sanctions against Iran continually pass with overwhelming majorities and often near unanimity. Despite such legislative bipartisanship, however, the White House (whether occupied by a Democrat or a Republican) has not always seen eye-to-eye with Capitol Hill. Most recently, high-ranking Obama administration officials sought to convince the Senate not to pass additional measures in order to avoid derailing ongoing negotiations with Iran.

Now that the United States has reached an interim agreement with Iran, getting a suspension of its nuclear program in return for some sanctions relief, overcoming these intra-governmental divisions is critical. The success of any final deal on Iran’s nuclear program will be judged by whether Iran’s ability to pursue a nuclear weapon has been sufficiently curtailed. But Tehran’s willingness to make concessions will be a direct result of both how damaging it believes continued intransigence would be and how advantageous a deal would be. Reaching a final deal, therefore, that satisfies U.S. security interests will require credibly applying pressure before such an agreement and being able to relieve it afterwards.

2013-11-08 00:00:00


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