New Iran sanctions would kill nuclear talks: John Kerry
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Last Updated: Thursday, November 14, 2013, 11:00
  
Zee Media Bureau

Washington: Warning the US lawmakers against fresh sanctions on Iran, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that doing so will mar the chances of a breakthrough nuclear deal with Tehran.

Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee, Kerry said that fresh round of economic sanctions would scupper the negotiations.

He added the US could risk losing negotiating partners (China, Russia and France) if it imposed punitive sanctions on Tehran before a deal was in sight.

With fresh nuke talks set to begin in Geneva on Nov 20, the panel was mulling a set of harsh measures on Iran that would act as bargaining chip to pressurise Iran into curbing its nuke programme.

However, Kerry sought to thwart any such measures against Iran for now, and said that the negotiators could take "few weeks" more to see if they can reach an agreement.

Kerry said that the US and other powers had talked to Iran "more in 30 hours than we have in those prior 30 years", reported the BBC.

"What we're asking everyone to do is calm down, look hard at what can be achieved and what the realities are," Kerry added. "If this doesn't work, we reserve the right to dial back up the sanctions. I will be up here on the Hill asking for increased sanctions and we always reserve the military option. So we lose absolutely nothing, except for the possibility of getting in the way of diplomacy and letting it work."

At a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing Wednesday, Democratic and Republican lawmakers sharply criticized Kerry and other senior U.S. officials for their offer during last week's inconclusive negotiations. "The Iranian regime hasn't paused its nuclear program," lamented Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman. "Why should we pause our sanctions efforts as the administration is pressuring Congress to do?"

But Kerry said moving the goalposts during the current lull in talks by adding new sanctions against Iran's oil and other industrial sectors would cause America's negotiating partners to see the U.S. as "dealing in bad faith."

"They would bolt and they will say, 'That's not the deal,'" he said. "And then the sanctions do fall apart."

"What we're asking everyone to do is calm down, look hard at what can be achieved and what the realities are," Kerry added. "If this doesn't work, we reserve the right to dial back up the sanctions. I will be up here on the Hill asking for increased sanctions and we always reserve the military option. So we lose absolutely nothing, except for the possibility of getting in the way of diplomacy and letting it work."

President Barack Obama is under pressure at home and abroad to resolve the Iran nuclear standoff, having stated that Iran could reach nuclear weapons capacity by sometime next year. Obama has reached out in an unprecedented manner to Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani, with the two men holding the first direct conversation between U.S. and Iranian leaders in more than three decades.

Yet at the same time, Obama has angered wary U.S. allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, which see an Iranian nuclear arsenal as existential threats. Iran insists its program is solely for peaceful energy production and medical research purposes, but until recently had offered little to assuage Western and regional fears that it was secretly trying to develop atomic bombs.

Both Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have repeatedly warned Iran about the potential for military action if negotiations fail. The allies differ, however, over how any diplomatic solution should look.

With Agency Inputs


First Published: Thursday, November 14, 2013, 11:00


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