A recent vote by the US Congress to extend existing sanctions against Iran for 10 years will provide a “weapon” for incoming US President Donald Trump to terminate an international nuclear agreement with Iran, an investigative journalist in Washington says.
The US Senate, the upper chamber of Congress, voted unanimously on Thursday to renew the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) by a vote of 99 to 0.
The House of Representatives, the lower chamber, had voted 419 to 1 last month to reauthorize the law. The measure will now be sent to the White House for President Barack Obama to sign into law.
ISA is an act of Congress that imposes economic sanctions on firms doing certain businesses and investments in Iran. The act has rarely been enforced against any non-US company and allows the US president to impose or waive sanctions on a case-by-case basis.
“I think it’s a very bad move by the US Senate for basically trying to cancel, by this legislation, an international agreement that’s been in force and seems to be working very well,” said Wayne Madsen, an author and columnist specializing in intelligence and international affairs.
Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council or P5+1 -- the United States, Britain, Russia, China, France as well as Germany – reached a landmark nuclear agreement last year, under which Tehran agreed to limit some aspects of its nuclear program in exchange for removal of nuclear-related sanctions.
“This move by the US Senate is to hand Donald Trump a weapon that he can use early on to do as he said he was going to do; scrap the P5+1 [nuclear] agreement with Iran,” Madsen said during a phone interview with Press TV on Friday.
Madsen urged Obama to veto the bill, which was strongly supported by pro-Israel senators like Charles Schumer of New York and Bob Corker of Tennessee.
The Obama administration has expressed reservations about the utility of the legislation, but congressional aides said they expected Obama would sign it when it reached his desk. The act is set to expire at the end of 2016.
Iran has warned that the renewal of sanctions will be a violation of the nuclear agreement and has threatened reprisal if the US extends the bill.