Leading Democratic and Republican senators are crafting legislation to reinstate the full force of sanctions and impose new ones if Iran doesn't make good on its pledge to roll back its nuclear program, brushing aside the Obama administration's fears about upending its diplomatic momentum.
Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., hope to have the bill ready for other lawmakers to consider when the Senate returns Dec. 9 from its two-week recess, according to legislative aides. Many in Congress are skeptical, if not outright hostile, to the deal reached by Iran and world powers over the weekend in Geneva.
The Kirk-Menendez measure would require the administration to certify every 30 days that Iran is adhering to the terms of the six-month interim agreement and that it hasn't been involved in any act of terrorism against the United States.
Mark Dubowitz, an Iran sanctions expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said Obama would be wise to back a kind of sanctions-in-waiting law from Congress at this time, if only to remind countries around the world that Iran isn't open for business.
The Kirk-Menendez bill "would be a gift to Obama and would help prevent the unraveling of the sanctions regime," Dubowitz said. "The sanctions were about fear and now the market psychology is changing from fear to greed. Greed overrides fear."