US Visa Changes may Torpedo Iran Deal Implementation

Second, with regard to the JCPOA, it is clear that the immediate effect of H. R. 158 becoming law would be that members of European, Australian, Japanese or Korean business delegations who are planning to travel to Iran following the successful conclusion of the nuclear deal would be compelled to choose between visiting Iran and being barred from the VWP.

Of course, as a matter of priority, and namely because of the respective sizes of the Iranian and US economies, many of them would most probably choose to forego traveling to Iran over the risk of compromising their ties to the United States. The Iranian tourism industry, which is rehabilitating in the aftermath of the sanctions, would also very likely suffer a blow as a consequence of these measures, which could discourage thousands of tourists from visiting one of the few stable countries in the Middle East.

Thus, although some members of Congress may take pride in chipping away at Iran and the nuclear deal in this manner, this new policy constitutes a direct and adverse interference with the normalization process of Iran’s trade and economic relations, and as such, violates US moral and legal obligations under the JCPOA, whose Article 29 reads: “The EU and its Member States and the United States, consistent with their respective laws, will refrain from any policy specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalisation of trade and economic relations with Iran.”

This breach of the nuclear accord — through the unwarranted inclusion of Iran among the black list of “untouchable” states — is all the more problematic considering that as recently as October, US President Barack Obama stated that the “successful implementation of the JCPOA” would generate “extraordinary benefits to our national security and the peace and security of the world.” The Democratic caucus also consistently invoked this argument in defense of the JCPOA back in September, as Republicans were trying to kill the deal in Congress.

In this regard, the key question to ask the Obama administration and Democratic members of Congress is: Which objective, beyond shortsighted campaign politics, justifies supporting a bill that compromises the implementation of a UN Security Council-endorsed international agreement that only two months ago generated “extraordinary benefits” for the United States, the world, peace and security?

In sum, it appears that H. R. 158, if signed into law, will likely antagonize US allies and trade partners, as well as key players vested in the implementation of the JCPOA. The Obama administration should therefore take all appropriate measures to dampen the legislation’s unwarranted effects.

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