A Senior Iranian lawmaker says the Islamic Republic will leave the negotiating table if the US Congress approves additional sanctions against Tehran.
“The US Congress has recently been seeking to approve a bill to increase sanctions against Iran. It has been decided that the negotiations be suspended if the bill gets through the US Congress,” said Mohammad Hassan Asafari who sits on the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of Majlis.
The Iranian lawmaker made the remarks after a meeting in which Iran’s nuclear negotiating team briefed the parliamentary committee on two rounds of nuclear talks with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia and the US – plus Germany.
The US Senate Banking Committee is mulling over whether to move ahead with a new anti-Iran sanctions bill it had delayed before the latest round of talks between Iran and the group of six world powers which was held in the Swiss city of Geneva on November 7-10.
The new round of sanctions against Iran, which the Senate Banking Committee has been asked to “mark up,” were passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in July. The House bill seeks to cut Iran’s oil exports by one million barrels a day for the next year and includes threats of military force against Iran.
The White House, however, is resisting growing pressure from Congress over Iran sanctions, trying to convince US lawmakers not to impose what they call further “punitive” measures.
“Our hope is now that no new sanctions would be put in place for the simple reason that if they are, it could be viewed as bad faith by the people we’re negotiating with, [and] it could destroy the ability to be able to get agreement,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said before a closed-door briefing with the Senate Banking Committee on November 13.
During Sunday meeting, Iran’s negotiating team also briefed the country’s lawmakers on the agenda of the forthcoming round of negotiations slated to be held on November 20 in Geneva.
“The negotiating team and the members of the Majlis National Security [and Foreign Policy] Committee reiterated in the meeting that the suspension of enrichment as well as the closure of the Fordow facility and the Arak heavy water [reactor] or any other [nuclear] sites is not on our agenda,” Asafari noted.
Meanwhile, Israel has been trying to force the US administration into imposing additional sanctions to stop an agreement between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.
Israel’s Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett has recently met with a number of congressmen in Washington in order to persuade them to oppose a diplomatic deal with Iran.