Iranian sanctions renewal becomes law without Obama approval

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Iranian sanctions renewal becomes law without Obama approval

The US President has unexpectedly declined to sign legislation renewing sanctions against Iran - but has let it become law anyway.

Ex-president Barack Obama
Ex-president Barack Obama

US president Barack Obama has unexpectedly declined to sign legislation renewing sanctions against Iran – but has let it become law anyway.

Mr Obama faced a midnight deadline to sign the 10-year renewal of the decades-old sanctions law and the White House said he was expected to sign it.

But White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Thursday Mr Obama was letting it become law without his signature, saying he retained authority to waive all nuclear sanctions lifted as part of the deal reached with Tehran.

Iran’s president had vowed to respond if the sanctions were renewed, arguing that they violate terms of the nuclear deal. The White House disagreed but said Mr Obama would sign it begrudgingly, despite deeming it unnecessary.

President-elect Donald Trump has been sharply critical of the nuclear deal.


Under the US Constitution, the president has 10 days after Congress passes a bill to sign it, veto it or let it become law with no signature if Congress is still in session.

Although members have returned home for Christmas, Congress technically has not adjourned and is holding “pro-forma” sessions this week.

Though Mr Obama’s move does not prevent the sanctions renewal from entering force, it marked a symbolic attempt by the president to demonstrate disapproval for politicians’ actions.

The White House has argued that the renewal is unnecessary because the administration retains other authorities to punish Iran if necessary, and has expressed concern that the renewal may undermine the nuclear deal.

Iran’s government has complained to the United Nations about the renewal and on Tuesday, the president ordered up plans to build nuclear-powered ships and to formally accuse the US of breaking the terms of the deal.

Yet US politicians argued that renewing the law, first passed in 1996 and renewed several times since, was critical to maintaining pressure on Iran to abide by the deal and to pushing back on Tehran’s other troubling behaviour in the region. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and the House of Representatives by an overwhelming margin.

The Obama administration stressed that Iran would be unaffected by the renewal as long as it continues honouring the nuclear deal. Secretary of state John Kerry said he told his Iranian counterpart that “to ensure maximum clarity” he had issued new, redundant waivers exempting Iran from sanctions lifted under the deal.

“Extension of the Iran Sanctions Act does not affect in any way the scope of the sanctions relief Iran is receiving under the deal or the ability of companies to do business in Iran consistent with the JCPOA,” Mr Kerry said, using an acronym for the deal.

Mr Trump has threatened to try to renegotiate the deal and Israel‘s prime minister has said he plans to lobby Mr Trump to undo it.

Republican supporters of the sanctions had argued that renewing them would ensure that Mr Trump would have the authority to reinstate penalties that Mr Obama eased.

Under the nuclear deal, the US and world powers suspended sweeping oil, trade and other financial sanctions that had devastated Iran’s economy.

In return Tehran agreed to roll back its nuclear programme, though the deal’s critics say the agreement is flawed because it did not halt all Iranian activity, and key restrictions eventually expire.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: