Time for Congress to Pass Nuclear Iran Prevention Act

Brad Sherman

— by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks, California)

Despite many positive elements, the deal reached in Geneva has a significant flaw: It allows Iran to continue to enrich uranium up to a level of 3.5%-5%, as long as it converts this from gas to uranium oxide metal.  

Six months from now, Iran will have its current stock of gaseous 3.5% enriched uranium and an additional stockpile of 3.5% enriched uranium oxide, which it could convert back to gas relatively easily.  

The United States negotiators in Geneva would have been in a much better position had Congress passed and the President signed the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act earlier this year. The more penalties and the more significant impact on Iran’s economy, the more concessions they could have secured.  

More after the jump.
Congress should act in December to pass two pieces of legislation concerning Iran:

  1. Improve the administrative effectiveness of existing sanctions. One example of this effort would be to make every company doing business with the federal government or any state or city certify that they and their affiliates conduct no business that violates any of our sanctions laws.  
  2. We need to enact a bill providing for massive new penalties on Iran. These penalties would go into effect on June 1 unless the President submits, and Congress adopts, a joint resolution that suspends the penalties because Iran has signed a reasonable permanent agreement.

Our negotiators need more leverage, not less. I look forward to working to enact that leverage next month.



  1. says

    I like the idea behind Rep. Sherman’s legislation. The negotiations over the next six months will be even more difficult than those recently completed and the White House will need all the leverage it can get.

    May I suggest however some amendments which would be necessary to give the White House the credibility to be able to deliver on what it signs. We have seen how the Tea Party can block the House of Representatives from getting even routine tasks done without concessions of all sorts. We can’t conduct foreign policy with the caveat that House needs to act in a timely fashion when clearly it cannot.

    The additional sanctions should be triggered unless a treaty is signed by the the United States and Iran by June 1 or a law is passed by Congress and signed into law setting another date. Once the treaty is signed it must be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate (as per the Constitution) and the Iranian legislature by December 1, 2014, and it must be followed or the sanctions go into effect.

    Now sanctions are most effective if the United States gets its allies to follow along. If the United States unilaterally adopts the strictest sanctions and no other nation follows suit then we have accomplished little but punish ourselves. Instead the sanctions should take a two-pronged approach. When sanctions are triggered, the existing sanctions should be restored and slightly reinforced, but the Administration should be authorized and directed to use all diplomatic means to encourage our allies to join the United States in even more severe sanctions.

    Of course, if you wanted the most leverage possible, you could even include a clause authorizing the use of force by the United States against Iran in case of positive proof of the most flagrant violation of these agreements and significant advance towards the production of a nuclear weapon.

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