JINSA’s Blueprint for Congressional Action on Iran

The Biden administration’s plan to negotiate a “mutual return” to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is once again nearing a possible conclusion. Both Democrat and Republican leaders in Congress have warned they are not being adequately consulted on such a major national security issue, and are concerned the administration’s negotiations have yielded a deal that fails to advance important national security objectives.

The deal currently on the table is shorter and weaker than the original JCPOA, not “longer and stronger” as President Biden and his team promised. It would entail far greater sanctions relief than the original JCPOA, including the likely lifting of over 170 sanctions prior to congressional review. The restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program would bring them back to the same enrichment breakout time (about six months) that the Biden administration inherited in January 2021.

Like the Obama administration before it, the White House is again likely to argue that the alternative to this deal is either an Iranian bomb or the onset of war. The last four years outside the deal yielded neither outcome. There is another way to deal with Iran’s nuclear provocations that does not rely on concessions or war.

The United States should pivot to a strategy, as previously described by JINSA, of credible deterrence, nuclear tripwires, increased regional military cooperation, and comprehensive pressure on Tehran. Congress’ involvement is needed to help put such a strategy in place. JINSA’s blueprint for congressional action lays out a detailed Plan B approach that imposes clear and serious consequences on Iran if it continues to advance its nuclear program, strengthens the sanctions architecture to restore

U.S. negotiating leverage, and bolsters the capabilities of U.S. regional partners to defend themselves.

Congress can and should play a decisive role in moving U.S. policy toward a realistic strategy to counter Iranian intransigence by advancing legislation to achieve four broad priorities:

  1. Impose clear consequences and tripwires for further Iranian nuclear enrichment and weaponization advances;
  1. Increase pressure on Iran by boosting partner capabilities and regional military cooperation;
  1. Strengthen and codify the existing sanctions architecture;
  1. Specify parameters for acceptable (and unacceptable) negotiation

Gabriel Noronha – Gemunder Center Fellow

Click here to read the Blueprint.