ISA Grievances Conveyed to US

ISA Grievances Conveyed to US ISA Grievances Conveyed to US

Iran's nuclear chief used a meeting with his US counterpart, Ernest Moniz, on Sunday to reiterate Tehran's grievances about a US Congress bill that needs a presidential approval to reauthorize a decade-long extension of the Iran Sanctions Act.

Congress has voted almost unanimously to extend the 20-year-old ISA that has been in effect since 1996 and will expire on Dec. 31, if not renewed.

Top Iranian officials, including Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani, have railed against the ISA renewal, denouncing it as a violation of the 2015 nuclear deal and that its reimposition would prompt retaliation from the Islamic Republic.

The historic agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was clinched between the Islamic Republic and the United States and five other powers and went into force in January to grant Iran sanctions relief in return for temporary curbs on its nuclear program. In his talk with Moniz on the sidelines of the Second International Conference on Nuclear Security in Vienna, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, repeated Rouhani's call a day earlier on US President Barack Obama to exercise his executive power to block the Congress measure, Fars News Agency reported.

Rouhani said the US president is bound to use his authority to prevent its enforcement. 

"The implementation of the legislation would be a clear violation of the action plan and result in our firm response. Even its signing by the US president would be viewed as a breach of the US commitments and would face a proper response," he said.

US State Department Spokesman John Kirby said on Friday that Obama is expected to sign the bill into law, but noted that Secretary of State John Kerry would ensure that the reauthorized ISA only involves non-nuclear sanctions.

"Our expectation is that the president will sign the legislation, but I will also note that Secretary Kerry will retain the waiver authority and he will continue to waive all of the relevant nuclear-related sanctions authorized by the legislation as we committed to do in the JCPOA and have long been doing since implementation day," Kirby said.

  Contingency Plans

In his address to the conference, Salehi warned the US of a "firm and strong reaction" if it persists in its "irrational and provocative" actions that he said are endangering the action plan.

During campaigning for the White House, Republican US president-elect Donald Trump who is due to take office on January 20 criticized the agreement, calling it a "disaster" and "the worst deal ever negotiated".

Trump had vowed on the campaign trail to tear up the action plan, but later conceded it would be hard to destroy a deal enshrined in a United Nations resolution.  Iran has vowed that if the US were to tear the nuclear pact, it will burn it altogether.

However, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi dismissed concerns that the deal might collapse under hawkish Trump who will enjoy the support of his fellow Republicans in control of Congress. 

They unanimously oppose the historic pact and have introduced numerous measures to interfere with its implementation. 

"JCPOA is not a bilateral agreement [between Iran and the US]. It is a multilateral agreement that is not easy to violate or ignore," Qasemi told a news conference in Tehran on Monday.

He added that Iran has contingency plans to counter any potential violation and provide a "proportionate response". 

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