More Iran Sanctions: Leverage, Or ‘A Path To War’?

As a new nuclear deal goes into effect with Iran, a growing number of US Senators call for still tougher sanctions. The White House says that’s the path to war.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, arrives at the 27th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. (AP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, arrives at the 27th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. (AP)

Two big messages coming out of Washington right now on Iran.  One, from the White House, welcoming an interim nuclear deal that, as of today, has started the suspension of Iran’s most advanced nuclear enrichment.  And one from Capitol Hill, where a big contingent has now signed on to even harsher sanctions on Iran.  The White House says it’s finally found a narrow path to a real nuclear deal.  Congressional critics say they don’t believe it.  They want more sanctions.  The White says that is the path to war.  This hour On Point:  Deal or no deal with Iran, and the warning of a path to war.

— Tom Ashbrook


Robin Wright, journalist and author, distinguished scholar at the United States Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center. Author of “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World,” “The Iran Primer: Power Politics and U.S. Policy” and “The Islamists are Coming: Who They Really Are.” (@wrightr)

Peter Beinart, contributing editor at The Atlantic and The National Journal. Senior columnist, Associate professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York. Author of “The Crisis Of Zionism,” “The Good Fight: Why Liberals — And Only Liberals — Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again” and “The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris.” (@PeterBeinart)

Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Co-chair of the project on U.S. Middle east Non-Proliferation Strategy. Co-author of nine studies on economic sanctions against Iran. (@dubo1968)

From Tom’s Reading List

TIME: A New Beginning In Tehran — “Since President Hassan Rouhani’s upset victory in last summer’s election, Iran has been consumed with a strategic recalibration. The signing of the short-term nuclear deal in November, which diplomats will spend the next six months trying to turn into an enduring pact, generated tangible change in Iran’s relations with the world. And among ordinary Iranians, it’s no longer off-limits to talk openly about eventual reconciliation with a country long known as the Great Satan.”

Haaretz: U.S. Senate sanctions bill is all about torpedoing a nuclear deal with Iran — “Even if a reasonable time frame were specified, there’s a bigger problem. By insisting that Obama certify an end to Iranian missile tests and support for terrorism, Menendez and company are insisting that a final deal cover subjects it was never meant to cover. The interim agreement makes clear that the sole goal of current negotiations is to “ensure [that] Iran’s nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful.”

Wall Street Journal: A Bad Agreement Likely to Get Worse — “In the absence of verifiable Iranian commitments not to proceed with nuclear-weapon and ballistic-missile research, there is nothing to stop Iran from having a designed bomb and ballistic missile ready to go. Once Iran completes a dash to weapons-grade uranium, it can insert the warhead and quickly have a deliverable nuclear weapon.”

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