Delaney Leads Bipartisan Letter to President Calling for Ballistic Missile Sanctions on Iran

Jan 15, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON- Congressman John K. Delaney (MD-6) led a bipartisan letter to President Obama imploring the administration to impose sanctions in response to Iran’s multiple violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions. The letter also disputes Iran’s claim that changes to the Visa Waiver Program are a violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Last week, Delaney and Rep. Joe Kennedy (MA-4) introduced H.R. 4342, the Iran Ballistic Missile Prevention and Sanctions Act, which would impose sanctions on the transfer to and from Iran of ballistic missiles and advanced conventional weapons.

The Delaney letter was signed by six House members: Rep. John Carney (Delaware – At Large), Rep. Curt Clawson (FL-19), Rep. Tom McClintock (CA-4), Rep. Scott H. Peters (CA-52), Rep. Raul Ruiz (CA-36) and Rep. Randy K. Weber (TX-14).

Within the past few months, Iran has conducted at least two ballistic missile tests, unveiled a ballistic missile silo and moved to speed up the ballistic missile program. While the Iran Nuclear Deal targets Iran’s nuclear program, the U.S. maintains the ability to enforce non-nuclear sanctions due to Iran’s bad behavior including ballistic missiles, human rights violations and supporting terrorism. 


The text of the letter is as follows:


Dear President Obama,

We were concerned to hear that Iran has made the claim that the new Visa Waiver provision included in the recent omnibus appropriations bill is a violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iran Nuclear Deal.  As you know, the recent terrorist attacks in Paris shined a spotlight on a security flaw in the previous version of the Visa Waiver Program which allowed any citizen of a country with which the United States had a reciprocal Visa Waiver agreement to travel to the United States without first needing to obtain a visa.  This program has helped facilitate travel which has been a benefit to the United States, but finding out that some of the terrorists that attacked Paris could have easily come to the United States via the Visa Waiver Program (as they were citizens of countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program), was a clear wake-up call that required action.

While it is in the best interest of the United States to maintain the Visa Waiver Program, some reforms were clearly in order.  Foreign visitors to the United States are typically required to first obtain a visa, which means they go through a background check before they are allowed to travel here.  But if the visitor is from a country in the Visa Waiver Program, they would have been able to travel to a country such as Syria, potentially meeting with terrorists, and then travel to the United States without ever going through a background check.  That possibility is clearly unacceptable which is why we, with large bipartisan support, passed a law to close that loophole.  The reform to the law is simple; it simply requires visitors coming from Visa Waiver countries to obtain a visa when traveling to the United States if they have recently visited Syria, Iran, Iraq, or Sudan.

But Iran’s claim that this somehow violates the nuclear deal rings hollow.  First of all, Iran is not part of our Visa Waiver Program and has no say over the implementation of our Visa Waiver Program.  Secondly, requiring certain at-risk categories of individuals to get a visa and a background check before visiting the United States is neither discriminatory nor overly burdensome.  Nothing in the Iran nuclear deal, nor any other agreement the Unites States has with any foreign country, guarantees foreign citizens the right to a visa to travel to our nation.  That point should be made crystal clear to Iranian leadership and we should make no special accommodations to Iran on this point.

But while our new Visa Waiver reform doesn’t violate any international agreements, the same cannot be said of Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests which are in clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. We were initially encouraged by the administration’s announcement on December 30 to impose new sanctions due to Iran’s ballistic missile violations. But we were deeply disappointed in the more recent decision to delay the penalties, especially in light of President Rouhani ordering Iran’s defense minister to expedite development of its ballistic missile program.

Ensuring that Iran complies with the terms of the nuclear deal and takes concrete steps to dismantle its nuclear enrichment program, in addition to holding Iran responsible for complying with all of the separate, non-nuclear U.N. resolutions, should be a top priority and now is not the time to show leniency in the enforcement of Iran’s violations of international resolutions.  Now should be a time of hyper vigilance, holding Iran to the highest possible level of accountability.  We look forward to working with you on these new ballistic missile sanctions to make sure that Iran knows there are consequences to its actions.



John K. Delaney
John C. Carney
Curt Clawson
Tom McClintock
Scott H. Peters
Raul Ruiz
Randy K. Weber, Sr.