In an overwhelming 99-0 vote in the Senate, US Senators approved a 10-year extension of various sanctions on Iran, which the U.S. will apply immediately in the event of a violation of the Iran Nuclear Deal signed last year.
After the signing of the Iran Nuclear Deal, the economic sanctions targeting Iran’s military, energy, and banking sectors were waived under the condition that Iran abandon its construction of nuclear weapons. However, the sanctions that have been in place since 1996 were not repealed. Instead, the deal stipulates that the Secretary of State, John Kerry, will sign waivers lasting for 120 to 180 days. In the event of a violation of the Iran Deal, the United States and United Nations would “snapback” their sanctions.
Anticipating Iran’s reaction, the White House responded to the extension proposal negatively, arguing that Congress already had the power to re-impose sanctions if needed. Indeed, Iranian officials and clerics have promised retaliation. Leaders of Friday prayers regarded the vote as a violation of the nuclear deal. One of the prayer leaders, Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani, said “if you are to tear down the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], we will set it afire.” In addition, according to the Iranian Fars News Agency, the legislature is drafting a ban on US consumer goods as a threat.
Despite such threats, Middle East experts doubt the possibility of a diplomatic fallout. The deal itself has positive implications. It promises Iran’s reintegration into the world economic system. According to Michael Rubin, a Middle East analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, both “countr[ies] [are daring] the other to walk away from the deal first.” As long as the Iranian government adheres to the deal, the United States government cannot back off because US credibility will be irreparably harmed. At least for now, a peace will prevail.