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House Lawmakers Warn Administration Against Letting Iran Join WTO

A bipartisan group of four lawmakers cautioned the Obama administration against allowing Iran to join the World Trade Organization, as Tehran tries harder to regain its footing on the global stage.

Last year, Iranian trade minister Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh said accession to the WTO has become a top priority of the government in Tehran since the completion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement, which aims to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is developed only for peaceful purposes.

“America’s ability to impose financial or economic sanctions against Iran may be constrained if Iran were to accede to the WTO,” Reps. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) and Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) wrote in their letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. “The U.S. and other WTO Members should not be forced to defend against potential WTO disputes if we continue to impose sanctions against Iran.”

“Despite implementation of the JCPOA, Iran’s hostile behavior remains unchanged,” they added. The lawmakers requested Froman provide them with answers to questions regarding U.S. policy toward Iranian accession, and whether the U.S. will block Iran’s efforts to join the WTO.

The United Kingdom, the European Union and Switzerland have all thrown their support behind Iranian accession, the lawmakers said.

Reichert is chairman of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on trade, while Roskam helped lead the unsuccessful effort to overturn the JCPOA.