Kerry’s Iran Deal Destroys Power of Congress, Stalls Business

If John Kerry was still in the Senate, would he have accepted or tolerated this kind of action? Further, what if any government employee or diplomat would hold hostage an entire body of government?

Obama Admin: Iran Deal Limits New Congressional Action on Iran

The recently inked nuclear accord with Iran restricts the United States’ ability to impose new sanctions on the Islamic Republic in response to terror activities, human rights abuses, and ballistic missile development, according to a document provided to Congress by the Obama administration and obtained exclusively by the Washington Free Beacon.

Secretary of State John Kerry writes in the document that although the nuclear accord theoretically allows Congress to impose new non-nuclear sanctions, American lawmakers will be restricted from enacting legislation that Iran could use as an excuse for walking away from the deal, according to the document, which was provided as an on-the-record response to a series of questions from Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.).

Experts who spoke to the Free Beacon raised alarms about the Obama administration’s response, which they claim would give Iran a veto over congressional efforts to respond to Iranian human rights atrocities and global terror activities. Tehran, they say, would claim that such measures are an excuse for re-imposing nuclear sanctions slated to be lifted under the deal.

Iran claimed in a letter sent to the United Nations last July that it would treat any new sanctions efforts—including those not related to its nuclear program—as a violation of the deal, specifically if those sanctions targeted Iranian entities that had once been penalized for illicit nuclear activity.

Iran emphasized in the letter that it would enforce that interpretation “irrespective of whether such new sanctions are introduced on nuclear related or other grounds,” according to a copy of the letter published by Foreign Policy.

Kerry, in his recent letter to Rubio, admitted that the United States will have limited options in sanctioning Iran.

Congress will not have “free rein to simply re-impose tomorrow all of our nuclear-related sanctions under some other pretext,” Kerry wrote. “Iran would obviously see that as bad faith.”

“We do not have free rein to re-impose nuclear-related sanctions without a credible rationale,” Kerry said later in the document.

Insiders told the Free Beacon that the administration’s stance would likely prevent the United States from responding to Iranian aggression and human rights violations.

“You have to understand how crazy backwards this is,” a senior D.C.-based political strategist involved in the fight over Iran sanctions legislation told the Free Beacon. “If you’re an Iranian general who is just involved in terrorism, we may be able to sanction you for that.”

“But let’s say you’re an Iranian general who was involved in the nuclear program, and we designated you for that but now under the deal we’re delisting you,” the strategist said. “If you now switch to being an arch-terrorist, Congress can’t touch you because the Iranians will say we’re doing an end-run around the JCPOA.”

Kerry declined to support new congressional actions against Iran, stating that the administration would “remain vocal about human rights violations in Iran” and would only “continue to enforce existing human rights sanctions.”

The administration’s stance comes amid repeated promises to lawmakers that the administration would double down on the use of sanctions as a means to push back against Iranian non-nuclear aggression.


Corporate America stuck on the sidelines in Iran

TheHill: U.S. companies won’t be rushing in to do business in Iran, even once the terms of the landmark nuclear accord go into effect.

Lawmakers have been unable to kill the terms of the agreement on Capitol Hill, but lingering sanctions and the threat of new action will prevent the vast majority of American companies from setting up shop in Iran — even while their foreign competitors race in.

“If you’re a U.S. company, the day after implementation day is going to look a lot like the day before implementation day,” said Richard Nephew, who worked on Iran sanctions within the Obama administration and is now a program director at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

“I’m really, really skeptical that any major U.S. companies are going to want to tread in that space until they are pretty sure that they’re not going to get bitten as a result of this.”

“It would be a big mistake,” agreed Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), one of the few Senate Democrats to oppose the deal, “because there’s going to be still a whole host of other sanctions that will still exist for Iran’s non-nuclear transgressions, and it is likely that we will see other sanctions come down the road.”

In fact, except for caviar, carpets and a few other specific areas, the U.S. economic relationship with Iran won’t change much at all.

The nuclear deal lifts sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors in exchange for limits on its ability to build a nuclear bomb.

The vast majority of U.S. sanctions, however, will only be lifted on foreign companies — not American firms.

“We are not removing our trade embargo on Iran,” a senior administration official said in a recent briefing with reporters. “U.S. persons and banks will still be generally prohibited from all dealings with Iranian companies, including investing in Iran [and] facilitating cleared country trade with Iran.”

However, there are a few exceptions.

Once regulators certify that Iran has taken a number of steps to shut down its nuclear program — which won’t happen for a few months — some industries will have a small amount of flexibility.

The most notable is civilian aircraft materials, of which Iran is in desperate need.

 The U.S., in return, will allow imports of Iranian carpets and foodstuffs including caviar and pistachios. Those shipments serve a symbolic purpose but aren’t likely to have a transformational effect on the Iranian economy, analysts said.

Some foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies can also begin doing business in Iran. The Obama administration has yet to signify exactly what types of activities might be allowed, though, so it remains to be seen how overseas subsidiaries will respond.

In any case, corporate America doesn’t appear to be chomping at the bit to rush in to Iran, which may be in part due to the threat of new sanctions from Congress.

Opponents of the Iranian nuclear deal on Capitol Hill have so far failed in their bid to block it and are now turning to other avenues to undermine the agreement.

Meanwhile, as GOP presidential candidates are quick to remind people, the terms of the deal could be abandoned with the stroke of a pen from the next resident of the White House.

Those comments might cause

businesses to be wary of investing heavily in a legal opening that could close in just 16 months.

Europeans, meanwhile, have a different story to tell.

While many American firms will be on the outside looking in at Iran, the deal will lift most United Nations and European Union sanctions on Iran, which could open the floodgates for foreign firms.

“The bottom line is U.S. companies and U.S. persons will be more constrained, because we will have what is essentially a unilateral, U.S.-only embargo,” said William McGlone, a partner at the Latham & Watkins law firm who specializes in export controls and sanctions.

Some jostling has already begun.

“There are huge trade delegations over there,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who leads the Senate Armed Services Committee and is strongly opposed to the deal.

“There’s not an empty hotel room in Tehran.”

The main target of that foreign activity is likely to be energy, though the degree to which American firms get in on the game remains a question mark.

Federal analysts say the country has up to 30 million barrels of oil in storage and could grow its production by up to  700,000 barrels a day once sanctions are lifted.

Iran’s oil minister said in May that “we will witness involvement” of American firms once that happens, but even companies bullish on the prospects aren’t moving quickly to confirm their involvement.

Royal Dutch Shell told The Hill in May that the company is “interested in exploring the role Shell can play in developing Iran’s energy potential,” but a spokesman Wednesday said only that that position still stands.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he doesn’t expect many U.S. companies to join the parade to Iran, citing uncertainty about the stability of the country’s legal system and its lax environmental regulations.

But other countries, Cassidy predicted, are ready to move in when they can.

“The Chinese are going to be the ones who benefit the most in terms of trade, and then the Russians and then the Germans,” he said. “I don’t think the American companies would be anywhere close to it.”

“This is an incredible deal — if you’re in another country, starting with Iran.”

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Denise Simon