A leading Democratic initiator of the US Senate’s new sanctions bill against Iran has defended the move as an “insurance policy” for diplomacy, despite the motion’s violation of Iran’s nuclear deal which prohibits any new embargo against Tehran.
In a Friday article in The Washington Post, Robert Menendez said the new sanctions bill is “a diplomatic insurance policy” for settlement of issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program as a “preferred outcome.”
“It supports continued negotiations, gives the administration a year of flexibility to secure a comprehensive agreement, respects the sanctions relief Iran is set to receive and prevents any new sanctions from taking effect while good-faith negotiations are underway,” he said.
“It allows all sides to negotiate in certainties and provides one year of space for the parties to continue talking. It spells out precisely the consequences should the agreement fail. This should motivate Iranians to negotiate honestly and seriously,” Mendez noted.
The statements come despite the warnings by Tehran against the bill and the good progress that Iran and the Sextet of powers have already made in the course of their nuclear talks.
On Friday, representatives of Iran and the European Union said “very good progress” has been made in talks over outstanding issues pertaining to the implementation of last November’s landmark nuclear deal.
Iran has warned that fresh US sanctions against the Islamic Republic will scupper the Geneva deal.
Under the deal reached in Geneva, permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany undertook to provide Iran with some sanctions relief in exchange for Iran agreeing to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities during a six-month period. It was also agreed that no new nuclear-related sanctions would be imposed on Iran within the same time frame.
The administration of US President Barack Obama has insisted that the new sanctions scenario would damage talks between Iran and the world powers and threatened the veto the bill.
Last December, a group of ten senior Democratic senators sent a letter to US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expressing their opposition to the bill.
According to a Senate aide, the number of US senators supporting the new bill has reached 59 in the 100-member chamber.