The US Senate voted on Thursday to extend the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for ten years, leaving the option open for President elect Donald Trump to reinstate sanctions against Iran if it violates the deal concerning its nuclear program.
Though the Iran deal pushed through by President Barack Obama last year was highly divisive, the extension passed overwhelmingly yesterday. Two weeks ago, it passed the House by a vote 419-1, and yesterday it passed the congress unanimously, 99-0. The bill must now be signed by the president.
“We’ll let you know what the president decides to do with it,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at a press conference on Thursday.
Originally written in 1996 during the presidency of Bill Clinton, the ISA imposed economic sanctions on firms doing business with Iran. Originally, the bill included sanctions against Libya.
With the act set to expire at the end of December, Senator Bob Menendez (Dem) explained the need for the extension.
“If the sanctions architecture has expired, then we have no sanctions which we can snap back,” he explained to the press..
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker told Reuters that the renewal is intended to keep all options open for the incoming administration regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal with Iran.
“Extending the Iran Sanctions Act … ensures President-elect Trump and his administration have the tools necessary to push back against the regime’s hostile actions,” Corker said in a statement.
The incoming Republican president spoke out strongly against the Iran deal during his campaign, calling it a “disaster” and vowing to “dismantle” it. His recent candidates for security positions all seem to be like-minded, putting the future of Obama’s pet-project in jeopardy.
Iran reacted in anger, claiming the extension was a violation of the JCPOA signed in July 2015. Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei told members of the volunteer Basij forces in Tehran, “So far, the current US government has committed several violations with regard to the nuclear agreement,” adding, “The most recent of them is the 10-year extension of the sanctions. If these sanctions are extended, it will surely constitute a violation of the JCPOA and they (the US) should know that the Islamic Republic will definitely react to it.