WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama’s signing statement on an enhanced Iran sanctions bill emphasized his ability to waive penalties for countries cooperating with international sanctions.
The bill, passed overwhelmingly last week in both House of Congress and enacted July 1 by Obama in a White House ceremony attended by Jewish leaders among others, targets third parties that deal with Iran’s banking and energy escorts.
Some pro-Israel groups already have joined Republicans in urging Obama not to exercise several waiver options he has available in the measure.
Obama’s signing statement — a signal of how a president intends to administer a law — suggested that he was ready to use some of the tough new sanctions, but also was reserving for use a waiver for countries that are cooperating with sanctions passed last month by the U.N. Security Council.
"The Act provides a powerful tool against Iran’s development of nuclear weapons and support of terrorism, while at the same time preserving flexibility to time and calibrate sanctions," the statement said. "In particular, it provides new authority for addressing the situation of those countries that are closely cooperating in multilateral efforts to constrain Iran. The Act appropriately provides this special authority to waive the application of petroleum-related sanctions provisions to a person from such a closely cooperating country, out of recognition for the key role such a country plays in ongoing multilateral efforts to constrain Iran."
A statement from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee praising the president for enacting the law urged implementation as soon as possible.
"AIPAC calls on President Obama and his administration to implement these biting new sanctions against the Iranian regime immediately," the statement said. "If implemented, these sanctions will dramatically raise the price Iran pays for continuing its illicit nuclear activities."