Former US Secretary of State John Kerry speaking with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna, Austria, July 2015. Photo: US State Department via Wikimedia Commons.

As lawmakers prepare for an imminent debate over a new bill pressing further sanctions on Iran over ballistic missile development, human rights violations and other abuses, former senior Obama administration officials have mobilized in an effort to oppose it.

A draft of the legislation submitted by a bipartisan group of senators, entitled the “Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 ,” instructs the US government to “impose sanctions with respect to Iran in relation to Iran’s ballistic missile program, support for acts of international terrorism, and violations of human rights, and for other purposes.” The legislation would further mandate the Treasury, Defense and State Departments, along with intelligence agencies, to report to Congress every two years on their strategy to counter destabilizing “Iranian activities and threats that directly threaten the United States and key allies in the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond.”

While the legislation would not change the status of the 2015 nuclear deal – to which the US remains formally committed – ex-Obama administration officials are insisting that its passage could lead to the burial of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) implemented in January 2016, which they argue has effectively blocked Iran’s weaponization of its nuclear program.

Among the Obama administration-linked groups that have embarked on a public relations campaign to counter the legislation is the Ploughshares Fund, which last week distributed a letter to congressional staffers attacking the bill. As the Weekly Standard noted, “Ploughshares came under fire last May for giving hundreds and thousands of dollars to media outlets and fueling what Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes admitted was an ‘echo chamber.’”

J Street – a progressive Jewish organization that styles itself “pro-peace, pro-Israel” – has also joined the push. In an email to supporters, J Street warned that “Congress is considering legislation that risks killing the Iran deal.” Although the legislation “has the worthy goal of putting pressure on Iran to combat some of the truly despicable activities of its authoritarian regime,” J Street said, “the bill – as currently written – is so broad in its language that many experts see it as undermining or even violating the nuclear deal President Obama achieved to block Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons.”

Arguably the most important organization involved in the campaign is recently-launched Diplomacy Works, whose mission is focused on its contention that there are “few better examples of the value of diplomacy than the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).” The organization’s Advisory Council is chaired by John Kerry, the former secretary of state who was one of the key architects of the JCPOA.

The remainder of the Diplomacy Works Advisory Council is entirely composed of former Obama administration officials, all of them prominent in foreign policy. They include Jen Psaki, an ex-White House communications director; Robert Malley, an ex-White House coordinator for the Middle East, …read more

Source:: The Algemeiner


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