Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma has co-authored an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal urging individual US states to widen sanctions against Iran even as the White House and Congress undo their sanctions against the rogue Islamist republic.
President Barack Obama’s deal with Iran “welcomes Iran as a participant in the world community conditioned only on marginal changes to its nuclear program. It effectively allows Iran to maintain technology that would lead to a nuclear weapon, as well as continue its human-rights abuses, sponsoring of terrorism, imprisoning of American hostages, and threats to American allies, including Israel,” writes Inhofe, in an article co-signed by Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general.
“Fortunately,” the two write, “the U.S. states have the power to limit these threats, if they all choose to use it.” They justify this by noting that it was Obama who chose to turn the major international accord as an executive agreement, rather than as a treaty, “in order to evade the Constitution’s requirement of two-thirds approval by the U.S. Senate for enactment.” Since Obama skirted the people’s representatives in Congress – “the people, through the states, may come to their own decisions regarding sanctions on Iran.”
To date, note Inhofe and Pruitt, 25 states have enacted sanctions against Iran, as bipartisan legislation in states “from New York to Florida to Texas to California.” While Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed during recent congressional testimony that Obama’s deal does not affect the states’ ability to impose sanctions on Iran, he said that the administration “will take steps to urge [the states] not to interfere,” because Obama had, as part of the deal, agreed to “actively encourage” the states to drop their sanctions.
“We urge states to do exactly the opposite,” write Inhofe and Pruitt. “Rather than drop their sanctions against Iran, states should strengthen and expand those sanctions. Regardless of President Obama’s view of Iran, the states certainly have numerous moral and reputational reasons to prohibit the investment of public assets, such as pension funds, into companies doing business with countries that sponsor terrorism, and to prohibit state agencies from doing business with such companies.”
After listing “moral, reputational and prudential reasons” to sanction Iran, the two announce: “on Monday we are sending and endorsing a letter and a draft sanctions document to all 50 states, calling on the 25 states with existing sanctions to strictly and aggressively enforce those sanctions, and encouraging the 25 states that have not yet enacted sanctions to take every executive and legislative action available to immediately impose sanctions on Iran.
“The Obama administration may call this 'interference.' We call it the right thing to do.”