On 19 December 2013, the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 (S. 1881) was introduced into the US Senate by Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois. If enacted, the bill would impose various additional sanctions on Iran, although it allows the President of the United States to suspend the additional sanctions (first for 180 days and then for add-on periods) if the President makes certain certifications to Congress.

To become a law, the bill must pass both houses of Congress (the Senate and the House of Representatives) and be signed by the President. If the President refuses to sign the bill, Congress may override this veto by passing the bill again by a two-thirds majority in each house.

The White House has stated that the President will veto the bill if it passes in Congress. President Obama has urged Congress not to pass the bill, stating that additional sanctions threaten the JPOA reached on 24 November 2013. Iran has pledged to withdraw from the agreement if the US passes additional sanctions. However, the bill currently has 59 co- sponsors in the Senate, nearly enough support to hold a veto-proof two-thirds majority in the 100-member Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has stated that he has no immediate plan to allow a vote on the bill.

Proponents of the new sanctions bill argue that it is consistent with the JPOA agreed between Iran and the P5+1 nations, as it allows the President to suspend new sanctions if he makes certain certifications to Congress. However, critics of the bill point out that several of the required certifications are problematic. For example, the President would be required to certify that Iran “has not directly, or through proxy, supported, financed, planned or otherwise carried out an act of terrorism” in the US or anywhere in the world. On its face, this certification would seem to require the President to so certify to Iran’s past conduct as well as the conduct of third parties, such as Hezbollah, that Iran supports but does not immediately control, before the President could suspend the new sanctions.

The proposed Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 (S. 1881)

A Reuters article regarding this issue