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Tags: Netanyahu | Iran | nuclear | sanctions

Netanyahu Prods US for More Iran Sanctions

Tuesday, 11 November 2014 09:12 PM EST

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled that Israel won’t rush to attack Iran if the international negotiations to curtail the country’s nuclear program don’t reach a deal by a Nov. 24 deadline.

Instead, the Israeli leader said yesterday that failure should lead to more sanctions rather than a military conflict. In the past, Israeli officials have threatened military action, saying a nuclear Iran would be an existential threat to their nation.

“Israel cannot allow a regime committed to its destruction to develop the weapons to achieve that goal, but the alternative to a bad deal is not war,” Netanyahu said in a video address from Israel to a Jewish audience in suburban Washington. “It means giving existing sanctions, and even stronger sanctions, more time to work to achieve the goal of fully dismantling Iran’s nuclear capabilities.”

His remarks may encourage moves in the U.S. Congress to impose harsher sanctions on Iran, as well as criticism of any accord that falls short of the Israeli leader’s aims.

Congressional Republicans are pushing to move ahead with legislation introduced four months ago that would enable Congress to review, and potentially express its disapproval of, any final nuclear deal. The proposal also would trigger the re-imposition of all sanctions that have been eased for the last year under an interim accord if a comprehensive deal isn’t reached by the Nov. 24 deadline, or if Iran is found to be cheating on its nuclear commitments.

With Democrats retaining Senate control during the lame-duck session, the bill has little chance of reaching the floor or being adopted before the scheduled final round of negotiations in Vienna.

January Action

Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and one of the co-sponsors of the Iran legislation, plans to press the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Nov. 13 to move forward with the bill. Senate aides, though, said any immediate action could be blocked by Democrats.

An amended version of the bill is likely to be reintroduced in January when the Republicans take control, according to the aides, who asked not to be identified discussing internal planning.

Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, now the top Republican on the committee, is sponsoring the bill, S. 2650, which would mandate “congressional review and strict enforcement of any final deal.”

Corker said by e-mail that he has heard concern from senators in both parties that President Barack Obama’s administration might back away “from commitments about the role Congress would play” in approving a deal or easing sanctions.

Congressional Review

First introduced four months ago, the Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act of 2014 would require that the president submit any final nuclear agreement to Congress for review within three days of signing it. Congress then would have 15 days to review the agreement before taking a vote to express its approval or disapproval.

While such a vote couldn’t nullify an agreement reached by the U.S. and the five other powers negotiating with Iran, Republicans are seeking to put pressure on the president and congressional Democrats ahead of elections in 2016.

“Congress has signaled that they will not simply roll over and permit the Obama administration to conclude an Iran deal without their involvement,” said Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based policy group. He has advised Congress on drafting sanctions to squeeze Iran’s economy, which is also under pressure from lower oil prices.

Seeking Dismantlement

Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who remains chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee until Republicans take over in January, said in an e-mail that his primary concern in the negotiations before Nov. 24 is that any deal “actually dismantles, not just stalls, Iran’s illicit nuclear program.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, European Union representative Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif finished a round of talks on Nov. 10 in the Omani capital of Muscat. U.S. officials said little afterward, while an Iranian diplomat indicated there was no movement toward closing the gaps.

Netanyahu said he’s concerned that the U.S. and other world powers are moving toward a “bad deal.” He said the U.S. and other nations should press firm demands on Iran to “dismantle” its nuclear infrastructure rather than accept a compromise that would rely heavily on inspections and intelligence.

‘Devastating Impact’

“It’s obvious that Iran wants to remove the sanctions that have had such a devastating impact on its economy, but it should be equally obvious that Iran is not prepared to dismantle its nuclear weapons program in return,” he told the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly in National Harbor, Maryland.

“Unfortunately, instead of holding firm and demanding that Iran dismantle its program,” the international community “reportedly is willing to leave Iran’s nuclear program largely intact,” he said.

While he said his information was based on public reporting, Netanyahu had spoken with Kerry after the most recent round of negotiations in Oman.

Talks between Iran and the group known as the P5+1, China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S., have been going on for almost a year since the breakthrough interim agreement they reached last November.

Under a final agreement, Iran would have to submit to restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions that cut the Islamic Republic’s oil output and plunged its economy into recession.

Differences remain over the scope of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, how and when to lift economic sanctions, and how long Iran’s nuclear program must remain under international inspections and safeguards. Iran says its program is solely for energy and medical purpose.

© Copyright 2024 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled that Israel won't rush to attack Iran if the international negotiations to curtail the country's nuclear program don't reach a deal by a Nov. 24 deadline.Instead, the Israeli leader said yesterday that failure should lead...
Netanyahu, Iran, nuclear, sanctions
Tuesday, 11 November 2014 09:12 PM
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