FDD Executive Director Calls on Congress to ‘Defend the Sanctions Architecture’ As Deadline Nears

Dubowitz says sanctions needed to respond to Iranian non-compliance, deter illicit activities

FDD Executive Director Calls on Congress to ‘Defend the Sanctions Architecture’ As Deadline Nears

Mark Dubowitz
20th November 2014 - FDD Press Release

WASHINGTON – Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, called on Congress Thursday to “defend the sanctions architecture it was so instrumental in creating” to enforce a nuclear deal that may be announced between the United States and its allies and Iran in the coming days.

Dubowitz, who also leads FDD’s Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that Congress must provide increased leverage for the United States to respond to Iran’s inevitable nuclear non-compliance, as well as deter and punish Iran for its illicit and dangerous activities.

“Iran is at the negotiation table because Congress passed tough economic sanctions, many over Obama administration objections,” Dubowitz said. “Congress should continue pushing on all these fronts.”

In his remarks before the Subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa, Dubowitz warned the Obama administration may not be demanding the best deal it can get before Monday’s deadline in Vienna. He noted that while administration officials have said they are looking for an agreement that would "dismantle a lot” or “significant” portions of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, the terms of a deal could fall short of that.

“The more flawed the deal, the more important it will be for Congress to defend the sanctions architecture to maintain economic leverage,” he said.

He said the Obama administration has blocked congressional attempts to establish clear parameters for what constitutes an acceptable deal, to put in place “sanctions-in-waiting” that would increase American economic leverage and its efforts to set a strict timeline for concluding a deal.

Dubowitz raised specific concerns about “snapbacks,” in which sanctions will be suspended and then re-imposed if Iran violates a nuclear agreement. He said relying too heavily on snapbacks could give Iran political, economic and psychological legitimacy that would minimize the impact of the sanctions once they were re-applied.

“As Iran’s economic recovery becomes less susceptible to snapback sanctions, economic pressure will be a less effective tool to respond to Iranian nuclear non-compliance. This will make it more likely that the U.S. will be forced to choose between either tolerating Iran’s cheating or using military force to respond to violations – which is unrealistic given that the regime tends to cheat incrementally,” he said.

Dubowitz is an expert on Iran and sanctions and has advised the U.S. administration, Congress, and numerous foreign governments on sanctions issues. He heads FDD’s Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance and is the co-author of 15 studies on economic sanctions against Iran.  He also is co-chair of the Project on U.S. Middle East Nonproliferation Strategy, a nonpartisan project co-chaired by five nonproliferation and sanctions experts.  Dubowitz is a lecturer and senior research fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, where he teaches and conducts research on international negotiations, sanctions, and Iran's nuclear program.

Dubowitz has recently co-authored op-eds on the prospects for the Iranian nuclear negotiations in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. He has regularly appeared on CNN and Fox News Channel.

The full text of the written testimony can be found here.

About the Foundation for Defense of Democracies:
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)3 policy institute focusing on foreign policy and national security. Founded in 2001, FDD combines policy research, democracy and counterterrorism education, strategic communications and investigative journalism in support of its mission to promote pluralism, defend democratic values and fight the ideologies that drive terrorism. Visit our website at www.defenddemocracy.org and connect with us on TwitterFacebook and YouTube.

Media Contact:
Matthew E. Berger, Senior Director of Communications


iran, iran-sanctions