White House: Additional Sanctions Unwise

White House: Additional Sanctions Unwise
White House: Additional Sanctions Unwise

A White House official said on Friday that the imposition of additional sanctions on Iran which is engaged in "productive" nuclear talks with the major powers is "unwise" and cannot help resolve the 12-year standoff over Tehran's nuclear work.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters, "We do believe that while productive talks continue, it would be unwise to put in place additional sanctions on Iran." 

Earnest also said, “There’s not a whole lot of business conducted between the United States and Iran directly. We’re relying on other countries that actually do more business with Iran to abide by the sanctions regime. So far we have gotten that international buy-in that has really cracked down on the Iranian economy. It has prompted the Iranian leadership to come to the negotiating table with the United States and our P5+1 partners to try to resolve the international community’s concerns about their nuclear program,” according to a transcript of his remarks posted on the website of the White.

Iran says it has engaged in the talks with the major powers and increased its cooperation with the UN nuclear agency to prove to the world that its nuclear activities are only for peaceful purposes to end an “unnecessary” international dispute, denying the claim that sanctions have compelled it to sit at the negotiating table.

Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) failed to meet a self-imposed November 24 target date to reach a long-term settlement to the nuclear dispute and decided to extend their talks on a final deal for seven months until June 30, 2015.

  Disruptive Effect

Robert Einhorn, a nuclear expert who previously served on the US nuclear negotiating team, also described any new sanctions against Iran under the current circumstances as “unnecessary”.

He told the Russian news channel RT on Wednesday that the Obama administration is strongly opposed to such measures and believes, “If Congress imposed additional sanctions, this could have a disruptive effect on the negotiations.”

The comments came as US senators, mainly Republicans, are stepping up pressure on President Barack Obama to place new sanctions on Iran.

The Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez, has been a leading advocate for ramping up sanctions pressure on Iran to force it to make a deal in negotiations with the major powers.

Legislation drafted by Menendez and Republican Senator Mark Kirk had sought to impose additional sanctions if Iran failed to comply with the terms of the current interim agreement or a prospective final agreement. Former Senate minority leader Harry Reid blocked a vote on the motion which was introduced shortly after Iran and the major powers reached a preliminary nuclear agreement in Geneva in November 2013.

However, Senator Bob Corker, who is expected to succeed Menendez in the new Senate, has struck a cautious tone on that matter.

Corker said, “He may move slowly on legislation to impose additional sanctions on Iran over its nuclear activities,” Bloomberg reported on Friday.

Republicans, who mostly back increased sanctions on Iran, seized control of the US Senate and increased their majority in the House of Representatives in the midterm elections last month. They are scheduled to take over Congress in January.