US Congress Has No Say in Iran's WTO Entry Bid

US Congress Has No Say in Iran's WTO Entry BidUS Congress Has No Say in Iran's WTO Entry Bid

A senior lawmaker said the US Congress is in no position to block Iran's bid to join World Trade Organization.

A bipartisan group of US House lawmakers is pressing the White House to oppose Iran's bid, citing concerns that admission could constrain US ability to impose future sanctions on Iran.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran's accession to the WTO is no business of the US Congress or subject to its approval. It is based on a legal procedure that has been in place for years," Alaeddin Boroujerdi also told ICANA on Sunday.

The pressure from lawmakers illustrates the political crosscurrents facing the administration of US President Barack Obama, as Tehran integrates into the global economy after reaching a landmark nuclear accord with six world powers last year.

Iran signaled it wanted to move toward joining the trade body after reaching the nuclear deal.

In a letter on Thursday, Republican Reps. Peter Roskam of Illinois and Dave Reichert of Washington and Democratic Reps. Juan Vargas of California and Grace Meng of New York urged US Trade Representative Michael Froman to resist Iran's efforts to join the international group.

"In addition to further empowering and enriching Iran's [government], Iranian accession to the WTO could seriously complicate our ability to combat Iran's [alleged] support for terrorism, human rights violations, ballistic missile program and other illicit activity," the lawmakers wrote, the Wall Street Journal reported.

All four lawmakers opposed the deal the US struck with Iran imposing restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities for at least 10 years in exchange for the lifting of US, European Union and United Nations sanctions.

Under the terms of the nuclear deal, the US committed to freeing as much as $100 billion in Iranian oil money frozen in overseas accounts, as Iran takes steps to roll back key parts of its nuclear program.

The US lawmakers said in Thursday's letter that they worried that the WTO rules could limit sanctions the US might want to levy on Iran.

  White House's Stance

A senior administration official said the White House was not currently working to help Iran enter the world trade body.

"The WTO accession process is based on consensus, and as of now, there are a number of countries that oppose appointing a chair to Iran's working party on accession," the official said, describing the process involved in joining. "The US also does not currently support naming a chair."

Since the nuclear deal last year, Oman and Switzerland have pressed for forming a special committee of the WTO to address Iran's bid. Iran's regional rivals, particularly Saudi Arabia, have opposed that effort.

The administration of US ex-president George W. Bush  once pledged to support Iran's bid to join the WTO if a nuclear agreement was reached.

The move was the last of repeated attempts by hawkish Republican legislators aimed at undermining the historic accord.


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