Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.) have issued a letter today stating that a non-binding resolution they offered on Iran does not call for a military action against that country.
Ackerman and Pence, along with more than 200 other House members, are sponsoring a resolution (H.Con.Res.362), stating that "preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, through all appropriate economic, political, and diplomatic means, is vital to the national security interests of the United States and must be dealt with urgently."
The Ackerman-Spence resolution (the Senate companion is S.Res.580) includes a paragraph saying Congress "demands that the President initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by, inter alia, prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran's nuclear program."
While the resolution (I repeat, non-binding) also includes a specific denial that it authorizes use of American military force - "Whereas nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization of the use of force against Iran" - it has, understandably, led some to believe that it is tantamount to a declaration of war against Iran.
"Yes, we are casually giving our government the right to control Iran's borders using naval blockades," said aTuesday editorial in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "Might that be construed as an act of aggression? Only if we pay any mind to the rules set forth by the United Nations (which was conceived in Tehran, by the by), stating that such a unilateral blockade constitutes an act of war."
Ackerman and Spence, though, categorically say that is not their intention in a "Dear Colleague" letter they circulated today.
"These assertions are absolutely false and, frankly, utter nonsense," Ackerman and Spence wrote. "The resolution states plainly and distinctly that "nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization of the use of force against Iran;" the economic sanctions the President is urged to seek are explicitly placed in an international context; and the methods contemplated for achieving these sanctions are no different than those currently being employed to implement existing UN Security Council sanctions on Iran, namely enforcement of export controls by UN member states within their own borders."
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