U.S. officials call new Iran sanctions dangerous

Two top Obama administration officials urged Jewish groups not to back new Iran sanctions, calling them “dangerous.”

The officials from the White House national security team and the Treasury Department spoke Jan. 15 with Jewish leaders in a call convened by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

The officials outlined the interim six-month agreement, which trades sanctions relief for a nuclear rollback, set to begin next week, saying it allows Iran no more than $7 billion of relief from the $100 billion that sanctions are costing the country. They also said the agreement increases inspections and adds safeguards against any advancement in Iran’s nuclear capability.

A number of the Jewish participants pressed the officials on why the Obama administration opposes new sanctions under consideration in Congress, noting that the sanctions would go into effect only if Iran reneges.

The officials said the legislation would be perceived by Iran and U.S. partners negotiating the deal as creating new sanctions. That would violate the terms of the interim agreement and lead to the collapse of the international coalition that has drawn Iran to talks through existing sanctions. The officials called the new sanctions “dangerous.”

A number of pro-Israel groups, led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, are lobbying intensively for the new sanctions. Backers of the new sanctions say they would strengthen the hand of the six world powers, including the United States, at the talks. — jta