In a letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate President Kamala Harris, Biden said he is extending the national emergency with respect to Iran beyond March 15. The original emergency declaration in Executive Order 12957 was made by President Bill Clinton on March 15, 1995.
“The actions and policies of the Government of Iran continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” Biden wrote. “For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 12957 with respect to Iran and to maintain in force comprehensive sanctions against Iran to respond to this threat.”
Biden’s notice to continue the national emergency effectively cancels its termination, which would have taken place on the anniversary of its declaration, per Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act.
Clinton on March 15, 1995, declared a national emergency to deal with actions and policies from Iran that posed the “unusual and extraordinary threat” to U.S. national security, foreign policy, and economy. Executive Order 12957 (pdf) prohibited U.S. investment in petroleum resources in Iran, including Iranian oil companies or petroleum deposits.
The notice makes clear that it is separate from another emergency renewal with respect to Iran that President Donald Trump extended in November 2020. That extension pertained to an emergency that was declared on Nov. 14, 1979, by Executive Order 12170, by President Jimmy Carter.
That emergency declaration was related to the 1979 hostage crisis in Tehran, when Iranian militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took more than 50 Americans hostage for over 14 months amid a diplomatic standoff between the two countries. The executive order Carter signed ordered the freezing of Iranian government assets held within the United States.
Biden’s move comes after the United States in late February launched airstrikes in Syria targeting sites linked to Shiite militia groups backed by the Iranian regime.
The Pentagon announced that the strikes were in response to recent attacks against American and coalition targets in Iraq. The Biden administration said the Shiite militia groups were believed to be involved in the attacks.
Iran denied being behind the attacks in Iraq.
On March 3, at least 10 rockets were fired at an Iraqi base housing U.S. and other coalition troops in western Iraq. A U.S. contractor died during the attack after having “suffered a cardiac episode while sheltering,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said. Kirby said United States can’t attribute responsibility for the attack yet, and no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.