Keynote speakers the event were U.S. Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs (HFAC), and Eliot Engel (D-NY), ranking member of HFAC.
On December 7, 2016, UANI Chairman Senator Joseph Lieberman spoke at UANI’s Capitol Hill briefing. His speech may be found .
In her opening remarks Rep. Ros-Lehtinen stated, “It’s clear we’re about to enter a new phase of Iranian sanctions,” and that she said Congress’ strategy moving forward would be “enforcing current sanctions, expanding the other non-nuclear related sanctions, and perhaps even rolling back or tightening provisions of the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action].”
Rep. Engel emphasized the bipartisan support for holding Iran accountable for its continued meddling in the wider Middle East, but warned against revoking the JCPOA. He recommended that the U.S. utilize “our ability under the deal [through] non-nuclear sanctions … to begin to address Iran’s malign activities.”
UANI Chairman Senator Joseph I. Lieberman also headed a panel with Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), and J. Matthew McInnis from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Emphasizing the need to consult and include Israel and allied Arab states in discussions related to Iran as they have the greatest stake in any regional implications emanating from negotiations with Tehran, Senator Lieberman also called for strict policing of the existing nuclear deal. He also designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization; and recommended sanctioning sectors of the Iranian economy tied to its ballistic missile program, among other measures.
Senator Lieberman referred to the incoming administration, “[w]hen it comes to our relations with Iran and the goal of stopping Iran from ever becoming a nuclear power, the coming of the Trump administration represents a sea change, and from my point of view, a sea change in the right direction.”
Dubowitz emphasized that Trump’s election would increase the risks for businesses seeking to enter the Iranian economy. He also pointed out to the need to identify the increased number of specially designated nationals in Iran which are tied to the IRGC. “There are only 25 IRGC companies that have ever been designated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control in the Treasury, despite the fact that my organization has identified 575 IRGC companies that are eligible for designation,” said FDD’s Dubowitz. “Treasury should be right off the bat in February, once everybody’s in their seats, massively accelerating the number of IRGC designations, from 25 to 250 to 2500.”
That the Iranian regime is already testing the incoming Trump administration and Congress, was highlighted by AEI’s Matthew McInnis, who said that the United States has already lost leverage due to the nuclear negotiations that will be difficult to regain. He stayed that he thought that Tehran would be waiting for President-elect Trump to make the first move.
The event and UANI commentary on the future direction of Iran policy were covered extensively in , , , and .