Obama Officials Urge Jewish Groups Not to Back New Iran Sanctions

White House Representatives Called Measures 'Dangerous'

Getty Images

By JTA

Published January 15, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Two top Obama administration officials urged Jewish groups not to back new Iran sanctions, calling them “dangerous.”

The officials — from the White House national security team and the Treasury Department — spoke Wednesday with Jewish leaders in a call convened by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

JTA spoke with multiple participants on the call.

The officials outlined the terms of the interim six-month sanctions-for-nuclear rollback relief set to begin next week, saying it allows Iran no more than $7 billion of relief from the $100 billion that sanctions are costing the country. They also said the agreement increases inspections and adds safeguards against any advancement in Iran’s nuclear capability.

A number of the Jewish participants pressed the government officials on why the Obama administration opposes new sanctions under consideration in Congress, noting that the sanctions would only go into effect should Iran renege.

The officials said that even with the precaution, the legislation would be perceived by Iran and U.S. partners negotiating the deal as creating new sanctions, which would violate the terms of the interim agreement and lead to the collapse of the international coalition that has drawn Iran to talks through existing sanctions. The officials called the new sanctions “dangerous.”

A number of pro-Israel groups, led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, are lobbying intensively for the new sanctions. The U.S. House of Representatives last year passed the sanctions with a veto-proof majority, and 59 senators have sponsored the Senate version, shy of the 67 that would vitiate President Obama’s promised veto. Backers of the new sanctions say they would strengthen the hand of the six world powers at the talks, including the United States.

The officials walked back previous statements by Obama administration officials that called on supporters of sanctions to admit they would lead to war, saying that both sides are acting in good faith, but also urging those opposing the sanctions to defer to the judgment of negotiators.

The officials said that enforcement of existing sanctions remains rigorous, noting that David Cohen, the top Treasury official handling sanctions, is traveling to Turkey later this month to monitor enforcement.

They dismissed concerns raised by callers who noted visits to Tehran in recent weeks by Russian and other foreign officials, saying that such visits were routine and rarely led to actual business deals. The officials said the final status deal would not recognize an Iranian right to uranium enrichment, but that Iran likely would be allowed to continue enriching uranium at low levels.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.