State Department: New Iran Sanctions Could Hurt Nuclear Talks

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Oct. 3, 2013, 11:02 a.m.

A seni­or Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion dip­lo­mat on Thursday pressed U.S. sen­at­ors not to le­gis­late new eco­nom­ic sanc­tions against Ir­an un­til after a mul­ti­lat­er­al meet­ing slated for later this month on the coun­try’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram, The Hill news­pa­per re­por­ted.

“I would hope that you will al­low us the time to be­gin these ne­go­ti­ations [with Ir­an] and see if, in fact, there is any­thing real here,” U.S. Un­der Sec­ret­ary of State for Polit­ic­al Af­fairs Wendy Sher­man told the Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee. Ir­an would hear “quite dir­ectly that if there isn’t … every­one is ready to act,” ad­ded Sher­man, Wash­ing­ton’s top en­voy to talks between Ir­an and six ne­go­ti­at­ing powers.

The House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives passed le­gis­la­tion in Ju­ly that would ex­pand eco­nom­ic con­straints on non-U.S. com­pan­ies do­ing busi­ness with Ir­an, and the Sen­ate Bank­ing Com­mit­tee is pre­par­ing a sim­il­ar Ir­an sanc­tions bill.

Sher­man is con­cerned about the tim­ing of Con­gress’ de­lib­er­a­tions on such le­gis­la­tion be­cause of a planned Oct. 15-16 meet­ing in Geneva over sus­pi­cions that Tehran’s atom­ic ef­forts are geared to­ward de­vel­op­ment of a nuc­le­ar-arms cap­ab­il­ity. Ir­an’s re­cently in­stalled pres­id­ent has pledged to seek quick pro­gress in the talks, which have dragged out for years in an on-and-off fash­ion.

Still, the House bill’s spon­sor said the Sen­ate should “pass sanc­tions le­gis­la­tion now.”

Do­ing so would “in­crease our ne­go­ti­at­ing lever­age and deny Tehran the re­sources to con­tin­ue its nuc­le­ar pro­gram,” House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ed Royce (R-Cal­if.) said on Thursday in re­leased com­ments.

Sep­ar­ately, Sher­man said Wash­ing­ton’s im­ple­ment­a­tion of ex­ist­ing Ir­an pen­al­ties has been “hampered sig­ni­fic­antly” since many gov­ern­ment of­fices closed their doors on Tues­day, The Hill re­por­ted sep­ar­ately.

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