|Kerry to Congress hardliners: New sanctions on Iran would be seen as an act of bad faith||
TEHRAN – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has defended the nuclear deal struck with Iran to a hardline panel of congressmen.
Kerry suggested any new sanctions would be seen as an act of bad faith because Washington agreed under the November 24 deal not to impose additional sanctions.
He also said they could undermine the unity of the six major powers who negotiated the deal: Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.
"I don't want to give the Iranians a public excuse to flout the agreement," Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday.
"It could lead our international partners to think that we're not an honest broker."
Kerry said if the Congress imposed new sanctions against Iran, it would risk the "delicate" diplomatic effort needed for a larger deal, BBC reported.
The Obama administration hopes that the interim agreement, slated to last six months but renewable for a further six months by mutual consent, will provide time to negotiate a final deal with the Iranians within a year.
His administration’s appeal to Congress to hold off on imposing more sanctions on Iran won key support on Tuesday when the chairman of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee said he would not back new legislation at this time.
“The president and Secretary (of State John) Kerry have made a strong case for a pause in Congressional action on new Iran sanctions, so I am inclined to support their request and hold off on committee action for now,” Democratic Senator Tim Johnson said in a statement.
The Banking Committee oversees sanctions legislation in the Senate, and has been debating for months whether to go ahead with new sanctions on Tehran.
The Republican-led House passed a new package of sanctions by a vote of 400-20 in July. That bill seeks to cut Iran’s oil exports to near zero over the course of a year.
“We are asking you to give our negotiators and our experts the time and the space to do their jobs and that includes asking you while we negotiate that you hold off imposing new sanctions,” Kerry stated.
“I am not saying never ... If this doesn’t work, we are coming back and asking you for more. I am just saying not right now,” he added. “This is a very delicate diplomatic moment.”
“We are at a crossroads, we are at one of those hinge-points in history - one path could lead to an enduring resolution in the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, the other path could lead to continued hostility and potentially conflict,” Kerry said.
On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was quoted as saying any new U.S. sanctions - which the United States promised not to impose in the November 24 Geneva agreement - would kill the deal.
"If Congress adopts sanctions, it shows lack of seriousness and lack of a desire to achieve a resolution on the part of the United States," Mr Zarif told Time magazine.
Kerry said the nuclear deal had increased the security of the United States.
"I would state to you unequivocally, the answer is yes, the national security of the United States is stronger under this first-step agreement than it was before," Kerry said.
Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew were to hold a classified briefing on Iran for the full U.S. Senate on Wednesday.
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|Last Updated on 11 December 2013 17:48|