US Congress Urged Not to Sabotage Iran Talks

US Congress Urged Not to Sabotage Iran Talks
US Congress Urged Not to Sabotage Iran Talks

With the November 24 target date to reach an agreement between Iran and its negotiating partners over Tehran’s nuclear program fast approaching, dozens of American NGOs have expressed “deep concern” over the US congress’s attempts to derail “final weeks of sensitive diplomacy.”

 According the American weekly magazine The Nation, thirty seven non-governmental organizations in a letter sent out to lawmakers on Thursday have expressed “deep concern with inaccurate and counterproductive rhetoric from a handful of members of congress regarding possible outcomes of the current negotiations.”  

The New York Times reported this week that the US administration might be seeking to avoid congress by using its executive authority to roll back anti-Iran economic sanctions unilaterally, without lawmakers’ approval. The Times reported, “Many members of congress see the plan (to avoid congress vote) as an effort by the administration to freeze them out.”

Elsewhere, the paper added that some Israeli officials also see a congressional vote “as the best way to constrain the kind of deal that Mr. Obama might strike.” In response, administration officials quickly dismissed the report. US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday, “The Obama administration planned to fully consult congress about ongoing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.”          

Among the signatories of the letter are the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, J Street,, the National Iranian American Council, Progressive Democrats of America, the United Methodist Church, and VoteVets

The organizations lamented “irresponsible threats to oppose any comprehensive agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program that initially suspends US sanctions on Iran through lawful executive action.”

Iran and the major powers have set a November 24 target date to build on an interim nuclear accord they reached in Geneva last November to hammer out a long-term settlement to the nuclear dispute, which has dragged on for over a decade.  

The two sides said the most recent round of high-level nuclear talks in the Austrian capital Vienna made “some progress”, but major differences on various issues remain to be resolved. The future scope of Iran’s nuclear enrichment capacity, the mechanism and speed of lifting sanctions, the duration of the final deal, the Arak heavy-water reactor, and the underground fordo enrichment facility are the main stumbling blocks in the talks.