WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told AIPAC that there is no need for new sanctions on Iran because the Obama administration is sustaining a tough sanctions regime even while nuclear talks are underway.
“We do not believe that now is the time to adopt new sanctions legislation,” Lew said Sunday evening at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual policy conference.
“We do not need new sanctions now,” he said. “The sanctions in place are working to bring Iran to the negotiating table, and passing new sanctions now could derail the talks that are underway and splinter the international cooperation that has made our sanctions regime so effective.”
Lew alluded to arguments advanced by AIPAC that the sanctions relief attached to interim nuclear talks with Iran reversed the momentum in Iran’s favor.
“Now, in the next two days or so, you may hear some say that the very narrow relief in the interim agreement has unraveled the sanctions regime or eased the chokehold on Iran’s economy,” he said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Lew said the sanctions relief was marginal and reversible.
“The bottom-line is: Promises are not enough — Iran must meet its obligations,” he said. “This is not a case of trust and verify. This is a case of verify everything.”
AIPAC backs the introduction of new sanctions, although under pressure from the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress, it has retreated in recent weeks from calling for an immediate vote in the Senate for such sanctions.
On Monday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), urged AIPAC activists to press for the new sanctions.
“I believe we have to keep the pressure on,” he said. “I believe the Senate should pass new bipartisan sanctions legislation that would take effect if the current negotiations don’t succeed.”