Merkley Statement on the Senate Banking Committee’s Markup of Iran Sanctions Legislation

“Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapon would be a grave threat to global security and a direct threat to the United States. I have strongly supported toughened sanctions on Iran in the past and will readily do so again if they back out of the P5+1 negotiations. We must not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.

“At this moment, though, based on both the classified and unclassified information I’ve received, I believe a triggered sanctions bill will make negotiations less likely to succeed and make it harder to maintain and strengthen the international sanctions regime if the talks fail. As some of our closest allies have said, unilateral sanctions now could take the focus off of Iran’s unwillingness to make the necessary concessions and splinter the international sanctions coalition that is critical to keeping pressure on Iran. A strong and multilateral sanctions regime brought Iran to the table, and we must ensure that we maintain strong and unified global pressure on Iran in order to halt its nuclear weapons program.

“It is important that the negotiations not drag on indefinitely. Hard decisions are made when deadlines loom, so there must be a meaningful deadline. If no deal is reached, we must be in a position to impose additional sanctions with a strong global coalition as partners. Until that deadline is reached, however, I think additional triggered sanctions will not bring us closer to our shared goal of a tough, verifiable end to Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.”