US State Sanctions to Remain Despite Iran Deal

Obama may have threatened to veto Congress opposition, but states say they will keep their sanctions in what may be a deal breaker.

Ari Yashar, Sarah Leah Lawent ,

Barack Obama announces nuclear deal
Barack Obama announces nuclear deal

Iran has become adamant that all sanctions be dropped immediately with the signing of a nuclear deal by June 30, a demand contradicting Western positions, but that appears unlikely to happen as US states seem determined to maintain their sanctions regardless of a deal.

A full 26 states have sanctions measures in place against companies doing business with Iran, and Kansas and Mississippi are considering incorporating such policies of their own as well, reports Reuters.

The sanctions have public pension funds divesting billions of dollars from the companies, and in over half of the states the policies are only to expire if Iran is no longer designated as a state sponsor of terrorism, or if all US federal sanctions against Iran are lifted. Neither of the two options are expected to occur in the Iran nuclear deal.

"Our investment sanctions are not tied in any way to President (Barack) Obama's negotiations with the Iranians," Senator Don Gaetz (R-FL) told Reuters. Gaetz sponsored legislation in 2007 to punish companies investing in Iran's energy sector.

"They would have to change their behavior dramatically and we would not be necessarily guided by President Obama or any other president's opinion about the Iranians," Gaetz added.

The issue appears likely to have a great impact, for if the sanctions remain in place that would not meet conditions Iran appears to be demanding in the frame of a nuclear deal.

Obama has threatened to veto attempts by Congress to have a vote on the Iran deal, but the state sanctions appear to be a factor out of his control that could potentially harm the chances of the nuclear deal Obama has been so anxious to seal.

Reuters was told by legislators in Georgia, Florida and Michigan that they don't plan to change their Iran policies regardless of a nuclear deal. In Connecticut and Illinois state officials said new legislation would be required to change their policies, even if a deal was reached.

In New York and Oregon, officials said they would see how changes in law at the federal level in light of a deal would affect their policies.

The framework deal reached earlier this month would leave all of Iran's nuclear facilities intact, and limit the rate of its uranium enrichment for a ten-year window. Obama has admitted that after the limitations of the deal wear off, Iran will be able to reach a "zero" breakout time by 2028, meaning it could produce nuclear weapons immediately whenever it wanted to.

Top Iranian officials last week said they will start using advanced IR-8 centrifuges that are 20-times as effective as standard ones as soon as a deal is reached, meaning they would be able to produce a nuclear arsenal in a rapid timeframe.