The Senate's near-unanimous decision on Thursday to sanction Iran for its human rights record, its ballistic missile work and its funding of militant organizations worldwide marks a new phase in congressional policy toward the nation just two years after a nuclear deal with its government bitterly divided Capitol Hill.
Democrats who supported the bill were no longer held back by an administration protective of the nuclear deal and interested in rapprochement with Iran: Barack Obama's former secretary of state, John Kerry– who negotiated the JCPOA– lobbied against the legislation on Twitter to no avail. US President Donald Trump has not yet commented on the bill and has ordered a State Department review of policy toward Iran and the nuclear accord.
Whatever those studies conclude, the congressional landscape on Iran appears to be reverting back to a pre-JCPOA era, when Democrats and Republicans often unified against Iran and resorted to sanctions tools to express it. The consensus strategy is to uphold the agreement in the short-term, countering Iran in "non-nuclear" spheres.
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