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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

President Obama said last September, “I was elected to end wars, not start them.” Unfortunately, dozens of U.S. senators believe they have a different mandate.

In the aftermath of the historic preliminary nuclear deal forged between Iran and six world powers, lawmakers in both the United States and Iran are doing their best to stop any permanent progress.

A Senate bill supported by 15 Democrats — including Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Bob Casey (D-PA) — along with 19 Republican co-sponsors would implement new sanctions on the Persian nation if it doesn’t immediately abandon all uranium enrichment, even for peaceful purposes.

Proposed legislation in the Iranian parliament would immediately increase enrichment beyond terms set in the temporary agreement if new sanctions go into effect.

Threatening to double down on sanctions would make sense as punishment for negotiations failing, but these senators are issuing a punishment for Iran coming to the table and making its first agreement with the international community in years.

“Members of Congress pressing for this bill are effectively choosing to close the door on diplomacy, making it far more likely that we’ll be left only with a military option,” an administration official told the Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent. This contradicts claims from the right that the pressure of more sanctions will force Iran to make an agreement.

While Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has argued that Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani is “a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” his country’s own intelligence suggests otherwise. “Expert analysis does not view Rouhani’s election as a deception by Khamenei intended solely to mislead the West, but rather as an authentic leader who is creating an independent power center,” reports Haaretz’s Amos Harel.

Hardliners could seize on new U.S. sanctions as proof that the outreach of their new president is doomed, ending this historic opportunity.

The end of negotiations may lead to the collapse of the fragile international sanctions regime, leaving America with only two options: military action or containment.

Those demanding an immediate end to enrichment would likely be unsatisfied with any continuation of Iran’s military program, making an attack inevitable and only an invasion could prevent the regime from eventually reconstituting and building a weapon, experts including Kenneth M. Pollack of the Brookings Institution argue.