TEHRAN – President Obama has seriously opposed any new sanctions against Iran after a landmark nuclear deal was signed between Iran and the major powers (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) in Geneva in November 2013.
However, some senators are working hard to approve a new sanctions bill against Iran. New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is a lead sponsor of the measure, which has caused friction between the White House and some Democrats in Congress.
Iran has warned that it would back away from the negotiations if any new sanctions were passed. Obama promised to veto the measure if it passes both the Senate and House of Representatives.
As part of the agreement, the U.S. has agreed to “refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions” on Iran.
Stephen Zunes, a professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, predicts that Obama will “win” over Senate in blocking new sanctions against Iran.
“Usually presidents win these kinds of disputes with Congress involving critical foreign policy issues,” Zunes told the Tehran Times.
Following is the text of the interview:
Q: Do you think that the Senate would finally pass a new sanctions legislation against Iran?
A: No, usually presidents win these kinds of disputes with Congress involving critical foreign policy issues. Even if the bill passed, he could veto it. And U.S. public opinion, even among American Jews, supports the negotiations and interim agreement.
Q: Is there really big differences between President Obama and senators over Iran?
A: Yes, there is. While both believe in supporting U.S. hegemony in the region, both advocate double-standards regarding the behavior of what they consider to be allied and adversarial governments, and both are generally hostile toward Iran in particular, Obama is realistic enough to recognize that-despite serious differences-Iran is a major regional power that has to be taken seriously. While many in Congress wrongly believe that military threats against Iran could force the government to compromise, Obama recognizes that such threats would make matters worse.
Q: In case new sanctions measures is passed against Iran some would be left with no doubt that the real intention of the United States is regime change in Iran. What is your view?
A: Most people in the U.S. government support "regime change" in Iran and many in Congress would like to actively encourage it, but Obama is realistic enough to recognize the United States does not have that kind of power.