Iran Rears Its Ugly Horn
Iran Threatens To Halt Implementation Of Nuclear Deal After Congress Votes To Extend Sanctions Law
Tensions between Iran and the United States are slowly reaching a boiling point after the U.S. Senate voted to extend the Iran Sanctions Act for another 10 years despite the nuclear agreement — officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — implemented at the beginning of the year.
On Thursday, Senate passed the Iran Sanctions Act 99–0 after the extension was approved by the House of Representatives in a 419–1 vote in November.
President Obama now has 10 working days to sign or to veto the law.
If Obama vetoes the ISA, it could delay possible tougher sanctions on Iran for another year.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said it was absolutely necessary to extend the ISA “given Iran’s continued pattern of aggression and the country’s persistent efforts to expand its sphere of influence across the region.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who voted for the nuclear deal with Iran last year, said: “We can ill afford to allow sanctions that deter and impede Iran’s development of conventional weapons of mass destruction to expire.”
The Iranian government reacted furiously to the vote in the Senate, saying the extension of the sanctions law was a clear violation of the JCPOA — something that has been denied by members of the Senate and other U.S. officials.
Senior cleric Ali Movahedi Kermani even called for “retaliation” against the U.S. after the vote in Senate.
“Nothing but hostility is expected from the U.S., but as said before, now it’s time to reciprocate,” Kermani said in his sermon Friday.
“As the Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei] has stated, if the [Iran Sanctions Act] law, which extends sanctions against Iran for another 10 years, is approved, it will certainly and undoubtedly violate the nuclear deal,” Kermani added.
Khamenei said in November that extension of the law would draw an “Iranian reaction.”
“If this extension is implemented and comes into force, it will certainly be a violation of the nuclear deal and they should know that the Islamic Republic of Iran will certainly show reaction,” Khamenei said at the time.
A similar threat was issued by Iranian nuclear energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi, who said Friday that if the ISA were implemented “Iran will take action accordingly.”
Experts are now speculating on the nature of the Iranian “reaction” to the ISA.
On Sunday, Tzvi Yechezkieli a renowned Israeli Middle East expert, said in the program London et Kirschenbaum on TV Channel 10 in Israel that Iran could retaliate by committing mass murder on the Sunni population in Aleppo in Syria.
The Channel 10 expert said the Iranians are committing a form of ethnic cleansing in the Syrian urban areas.
This is done by using massive firepower (so that people will flee) and by depriving the Sunni population of medical help and basic supplies. In Aleppo, for example, all hospitals have been closed after a series of aerial strikes destroyed or damaged the clinics.
Yechezkieli pointed to the presence of Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, in Aleppo and said the defeat of the rebels there will expose the bankruptcy of the Syria policy of the current U.S. administration.
The clearest indication of the nature of the possible Iranian reaction to the implementation of the ISA came from Javad Zarif, the Iranian minister for foreign affairs, who has developed a personal relationship with Secretary of State John Kerry.
Zarif told a gathering of Indian intellectuals and elites in India Saturday that Iran will halt the implementation of the nuclear deal.
“If they [U.S.] return to sanctions, we will not remain committed to the agreement,” Zarif said, adding that the era of American hegemony in the world had come to an end.
President-elect Donald Trump, meanwhile, is considering whether to impose new sanctions on Iran.
According to the Financial Times, Trump’s transition team is examining proposals for new non-nuclear sanctions on Iran.
The paper cited anonymous congressional sources who have been in contact with Trump’s team.
They told the Financial Times that Trump’s team discussed with fellow Republicans in Congress “possible sanctions separate from last year’s Iran nuclear deal that could focus on its ballistic missile program or human rights.”
Trump’s growing national security team includes several proponents of tougher action against Iran.