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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

More Pressure On Iran

August 20, 2018
Weekly Columns
For decades, the United States has grappled with the often contentious and theocratic regime of Iran. Iran is not a friend to the United States. It is a nation well known for funding, training and harboring terrorists, and often, the United States has been the target of such activity. Under President Trump’s leadership, the U.S. has approached Iran’s inconsistent and unreliable commitment to denuclearization. In fact, since the implementation of the Iran Deal under President Obama, it has been evident that Iran continued to become a nuclear capable state.
 
The Iran Deal was a bad deal from the start. It put the United States and our allies in an untenable situation that allowed Iran to get out from under international sanctions and resume their nuclear pursuits. Many of my colleagues and I, on both sides of the aisle, strongly opposed and voted against the deal when it came to Congress for review. When President Trump decided to withdraw U.S. participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), I fully supported his decision. With this decision, he also made it clear that the Administration would go forward with reimposing tough sanctions on Iran.
 
As a condition of the Trump Administration’s new strategy with Iran, wind-down periods of 90 and 180 days were implemented to stop business activity with the rogue state. Recently, the first wind-down period ended and the newest sanctions began. This first set of sanctions will stop Iran from the purchase or acquisition of U.S. money by the Iranian government; stop the country’s ability to trade in gold or other precious metals; stop the trade in graphite, aluminum, steel, coal and software used in industrial production; halt any transactions involving Iranian currency; and sanction Iran’s automotive sector.
 
In November, remaining sanctions will go into effect that will significantly impact Iran’s oil industry and shipping abilities. These sanctions will be placed on Iran’s port operators and its energy, shipping and shipbuilding sectors. Additionally, the sanctions will stop its petroleum-related transactions. 
 
These sanctions come at a time when Iran’s economy is beginning to suffer immensely. Although Iran’s President Rouhani has expressed interest in further discussions with the U.S., we must remain resolute in our strategy to deter malicious activity from Iran. 
 
I am confident that President Trump will fully enforce these sanctions. Iran has used financial support from economic activity to fund terrorism, destabilize the region and violate human rights among its people. Had the United States continued its participation in the flawed Iran Deal, Iran would have been able to continue its pursuits for nuclear capability and exert influence in the region without any adverse consequences.
 
Congress should give President Trump its full support behind his strategy with Iran. These new sanctions are an excellent start to put pressure on Iran to achieve an agreement that is more transparent, comprehensive and enforceable, as well as protect the safety and security of our nation.