|No need for new Iran sanctions, Obama tells Congress||
TEHRAN – U.S. President Barack Obama has urged Congress to resist new sanctions against Iran, saying there is no need for new sanctions legislation at the time.
In an end-of-year news conference, Obama told reporters that efforts in Congress to pass tougher economic sanctions could damage the recent agreement with Iran, which he regarded as a possible solution to a challenge lingering for over a decade now.
After intensive talks in Geneva, the foreign ministers of Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) struck an interim deal on November 24, based on which Iran agreed not to expand its nuclear program and to suspend its 20 percent uranium enrichment in return for a limited easing of the sanctions imposed on the country.
According to the agreement, over the course of six months, Iran and the six countries of the 5+1 group will draw up a comprehensive nuclear deal which will lead to a lifting of the sanctions on Iran and Iran will provide the world verifiable guarantees that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.
“It is very important for us to test whether that’s possible, not because it’s guaranteed, but because the alternative is possibly us having to engage in some sort of conflict to resolve the problem, with all kinds of unintended consequences,” he said.
“I’m keeping all options on the table, but if I can do it diplomatically, that’s how we should do it, and I would think that would be the preference of everybody up on Capitol Hill, because that sure is the preference of the American people,” President Obama said.
“We will have more insight into Iran’s nuclear program over the next six months than we have previously; we’ll know if they are violating the terms of the agreement,” he added.
“Now, if Iran comes back and says, we can’t give you assurances that we’re not going to weaponize…it’s not going to be hard for us to turn the dials back, strengthen sanctions even further,” the president said.
“I’ll work with members of Congress to put even more pressure on Iran. But there’s no reason to do it right now.”
“As president of the United States right now… what I’m saying to (Congress), what I’ve said to the international community and what I’ve said to the American people is let’s test it. Now’s the time to try to see if we can get this thing done.”
He added, “If we’re serious about negotiations” and seeking a final nuclear agreement the United States has to act in ways that do not increase Iran’s suspicions.
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