Obama refuses to sign Iran sanctions bill; law goes into effect

Scheduled to expire at the end of the year, President Obama allowed an extension of the Iran Sanctions Act to take effect without his signature on Thursday, extending sanctions against the Middle Eastern country for a period of 10 years.

Under law, a bill reaching the president’s desk becomes law within 10 days if the president takes no action and Congress remains in session.  Had Congress adjourned and the president taken no action, a procedure known as a “pocket veto” would have occurred and the bill would have died.

Directing attention to the fact the president is not powerless to waive sanctions lifted after the landmark Iran deal was signed in 2015, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said:

“The extension of the Iran Sanctions Act is becoming law without the president’s signature.  If Congress does blow up the deal that prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, they’re going to have to deal with the consequences, and the consequences are grave.”

Although the renewal of the sanctions were determined by Mr. Obama as “unnecessary,” the bill was passed overwhelmingly in both Houses of Congress.

Iran has argued the lengthening of sanctions is punitive, a violation of the nuclear deal and had vowed to respond if Congress and the president prolonged the embargo.  Earlier this week, Iran announced its intent to develop nuclear-powered ships, a gesture thought to be retaliation for continuing sanctions.

Despite the president’s faith in the Iran deal, GOP lawmaker Ed Royce, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs warned against Iranian propaganda.

“Don’t be fooled by Tehran’s rhetoric,” Royce said. “Iran is the only party that has broken terms of the deal. (The law) ensures the Trump administration can ‘snap-back’ other powerful sanctions when the ayatollah makes a rush for a nuclear weapon.”

 

[AP] [Photo courtesy Mark Wilson/Getty Images via Wall Street Journal]