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!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • 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.