As Trump Era Dawns, Top Congressmen Call for Stricter Enforcement of Iran Nuclear Deal
A year after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) went into effect and just a week and a half into Donald Trump’s presidency, a bipartisan pair of top US Congressmen on Wednesday called for more stringent enforcement of the nuclear deal with Iran.
Taking part in a panel discussion on Capitol Hill organized by The Israel Project (TIP), Republican Ed Royce of California and Democrat Eliot Engel of New York laid out their views of what US policy toward the Islamic Republic should be moving forward.
Royce, the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said the Trump administration should have the Treasury Department issue a warning that if Iran continues to misbehave — with acts such as this past weekend’s ballistic missile test — the US will bar global banks from conducting dollar transactions with their Iranian counterparts.
“We have to put them on notice,” Royce said.
Engel, the ranking Democratic member of the committee Royce heads, stated, “We need to make sure they [the Iranians] live up to their obligations under the JCPOA…We have to be smart about it and hold their feet to the fire. We must never, never trust them.”
Furthermore, Engel said, “Iran needs to suffer consequences for its dangerous behavior.”
“They’re going to keep testing us,” Engel added. “They’re going to be like children…and I think we should slam the door, be firm with them and make them understand that we’re not going to put up with their nonsense.”
Engel continued: “We need to keep a united front…Foreign policy should be bipartisan, wherever possible. We will be outspoken [against Iran] and we will do in on a bipartisan basis.”
Royce said that once the new secretary of state — Rex Tillerson — takes office in Foggy Bottom, the US should engage in a “broad review” of its Iran policy.
“I think we should be increasing human rights designations on Iran,” Royce said. “I think we should be tightening the sanctions against the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps]. I think we respond to Iran’s ballistic missile production demonstrably…[and] begin to rebuild international sanctions on Iran.”
“We need to rebuild the consensus that the regime is a bad actor, so that means doing more to highlight what’s going on internally in Iran, which is a human rights nightmare,” Royce went on to say.
Royce also called for direct appeals to be made to everyday Iranians, with the ultimate goal of prompting them to overthrow the current authoritarian regime in favor of a democratic government.
“We can’t sit by another eight years without using the opportunity to reach the people in Iran with…real information about the malfeasance, corruption and everything else that goes on in Iran,” he said. “[The ayatollah’s regime] is in opposition to the entire culture and history of the Persian people.”
Engel noted, “I think one of the ways we can show Iran we mean business is we can keep up our close alliance with Israel.”
Referring to the growing behind-the-scenes ties between the Jewish state and the Sunni Arab axis in the Middle East, Engel said, “I think we need to do everything we can to facilitate [this]…and show Iran that the Sunni Arab-Israeli-United States alignment is something that it has to be concerned about.”
When it comes to foreign policy, Engel concluded, “America has to lead. When we don’t lead, we see what happens in Syria. When we don’t lead, things spiral out of control and it makes it harder for us. When we don’t lead, people around the world being to question where is the American resolve. So I believe we need to lead, because it is in our national interest. It is important. You can’t say, ‘Well, it’s on the other side of the world, so we’re going to only worry about what happens here.’ The world is shrinking and without American leadership it’s going to shrink in a way we don’t like.”
Watch the full panel discussion below: