|104 U.S. lawmakers support diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program||
TEHRAN – As talks on a comprehensive Iran nuclear deal are set to get underway in Vienna next week, over 100 members of Congress have written to U.S. President Barack Obama expressing support for robust diplomacy as the best way to resolve Iran’s nuclear issue, and urging against any Congressional action that might interfere in sensitive negotiations, according to Al-Monitor.
The letter, signed by 100 Democratic House members and 4 Republicans, signals opposition to any form of Congressional resolution or legislation that could interfere with Iran diplomacy at this time, Rep. David Price (D-North Carolina) said in an interview Wednesday.
“We heard lots of talk about a possible resolution, partisan or bipartisan, that might state certain expectations for the ultimate outcome (of a comprehensive Iran nuclear deal) or otherwise interject itself into” the process, Price told Al-Monitor. “That did not seem to us a good idea.”
The letter expresses opposition to “any kind of Congressional action that might empower the hardliners on the other side, raise doubts about American intentions,…almost irrespective of the content of the resolution,” he said.
“We believe that robust diplomacy remains our best possible strategic option,” 104 members of the U.S. House of Representatives wrote in the Feb. 12 letter.
“Congress should not undermine diplomacy by giving the Iranian hardliners an excuse to scuttle the negotiations,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat representing Austin, Texas, said in a press release.
Six world powers and Iran are due to hold the first round of comprehensive Iran nuclear deal talks in Vienna February 18-20.
Under a six month interim deal that went into effect Jan. 20, Iran has suspended 20% enrichment, provides increased access to its nuclear facilities for inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), halted further installation of centrifuges and agreed not to operate advanced centrifuges, among other steps.
Iran accepted constraints on its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of sanctions against the country.
Price said he believed there has been a shift in Congress to be more supportive of the administration’s diplomatic efforts with Iran, as demonstrated by the letter as well as by the recent decision not to bring an Iran sanctions bill to a vote in the Senate.
“I think the conclusion you might draw from some of the resolutions the House has passed and the debate on the (Senate) sanctions bill, is that we have corrected that impression” that Congress does not support diplomacy with Iran, or recognize the possibility of a shift under the new Iranian Hassan Rouhani administration, Rep. Price said.
“We find members very receptive to give diplomacy a chance,” Price said, “and explore whatever possibility (for a diplomatic resolution) that the new (Iranian) president has to offer.”
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