Sanctions Bill Would Kill Interim Deal

Sanctions Bill Would Kill Interim Deal
Sanctions Bill Would Kill Interim Deal

 Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned that imposing new sanctions on Iran by the US Congress could "torpedo" the negotiating process between Iran and the major powers on Tehran's nuclear program.


Speaking on a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday, Zarif said, "A sanctions bill by the US Congress will kill the Joint Plan Of Action (JPOA) that we adopted last year in Geneva", adding, "The president of the United States has the power to veto it, but our parliament will have its counter-action and our president doesn't have the power to veto it."            

Under such a scenario the parliament will require the government to "increase our enrichment" if new sanctions were actually imposed on Iran, Zarif noted.  

Iran and the six major powers (the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany) clinched an interim nuclear deal in Geneva in late 2013, which is officially called the Joint Plan of Action.

The two sides failed in November to meet a self-imposed deadline for reaching an elusive agreement to resolve the long-running dispute over Tehran's nuclear work. They agreed to extend the talks for seven more months until June 30.     

Under the JPOA, Tehran agreed to temporarily scale down parts of its nuclear activities in exchange for a limited easing of sanctions.

Nevertheless, some lawmakers in both major US political parties have backed fresh sanctions against Tehran, something US President Barack Obama says he opposes while negotiations are continuing.

***Confrontation Unhelpful

Zarif also said, "There are all sorts of possibilities and I don't want to entertain them because I believe there is a possibility, a very good probability of reaching an agreement and we should not waste that opportunity."

He added Tehran is still "prepared to go for a deal" as "confrontation doesn't help anyone."

The foreign minister dismissed Western claims that sanctions have brought Iran to the negotiating table, and said the country's desire to "change our dynamics" in relations with other countries was the driving force for the talks.

Zarif also held a one-hour-long meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday on the fringes of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Kerry and Zarif had met as recently as last week, both in Geneva and in Paris.

Following the meeting, the top Iranian diplomat told media that he discussed various issues with his American counterpart including the number of centrifuges, the methods of enrichments as well as a set of proposals made by Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany).


The future size and scope of Iran's uranium enrichment program and the speed of ending sanctions have been among major sticking points in the talks and Tehran has always stressed that it will not accept any "excessive demands" in relation to these issues.  

The United States and some of its allies claim Iran may have been seeking to develop the capability to build nuclear weapons. Iran denies the allegation, saying its nuclear work is only for peaceful application, such as power generation.

Zarif reiterated, "Tehran has never pursued to build nuclear weapons and has no problem to prove that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes."

He flew to Saudi Arabia on Friday to take part in an official memorial service for the late Saudi King Abdullah due which was due to be held in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Iran and US diplomats resumed a second day of talks over Tehran's nuclear program on Saturday in Zurich, Switzerland.

Senior negotiators Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-Ravanchi met with US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who is heading the American delegation.

On Friday, they held two rounds of talks as part of efforts to narrow differences as part of efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement to the nuclear dispute.