US-Iran Ties Improve, But Congress Still Likely to Impose New Sanctions

Hawks Blast New Diplomacy Push

Last week’s UN General Assembly speeches, a Rouhani-Obama phone call and a P5+1 meeting with Iran have set the stage for a radical shift in US-Iranian relations, with a new emphasis on sincere diplomacy and both sides saying settlements of long-standing disputes are possible in the near future.

Not everyone got the memo though, or if they did they’re not happy with the shift away from decades of hostility toward Iran, and Congress is expected, on a bipartisan basis, to express their displeasure with the new state of affairs by imposing harsh new sanctions on Iran.

Hawks have been on this track from virtually the moment Rouhani delivered his speech calling for talks, insisting that any calls for not being on bad terms with Iran were an obvious trick, and suggesting that doubling down on sanctions would be appropriate to show Rouhani that they aren’t “fooled.”

Sen. Mark Kirk (R – IL) insisted that it was time for the Senate to “impose maximum economic pressure” with new sanctions, and claimed that this was the only way the diplomacy might work. Others like Rep. Ed Royce (R – CA) have spurned diplomacy outright, saying Rouhani’s desire for talks proves their effectiveness and pushing for more and more sanctions until Iran gives in unilaterally to America’s assorted demands.

However they sell it to their respective constituencies, the move to impose more sanctions will damage Rouhani’s bid for diplomacy, and will strengthen the voices of opposition hardliners in Iran’s parliament, who have opposed attempts at rapprochement on the grounds that the US isn’t willing to be reasonable. If ever anyone could prove them right, it’s the American Congress.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of