Kerry faces lawmakers at odds over Iran

2013-12-11 12:55
(Saul Loeb, AFP)

(Saul Loeb, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Secretary of State John Kerry will present his best case to Congress against ploughing ahead with new economic sanctions on Iran that could break a historic nuclear agreement and estrange America's closest allies in Europe as well as China and Russia.

His scheduled testimony on Tuesday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee comes as lawmakers threaten to undermine last month's interim nuclear accord in Geneva. There, the US and world powers promised Iran $7bn in sanctions relief in exchange for nuclear concessions.

The deal prohibits the Obama administration from introducing new sanctions for six months. Kerry and other US officials have warned of dire consequences if Washington breaks its word. And Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has said any new package of commercial restrictions would kill the deal.

"If Congress adopts sanctions, it shows lack of seriousness and lack of a desire to achieve a resolution on the part of the United States," Zarif told Time magazine. "My parliament can also adopt various legislation that can go into effect if negotiations fail. But if we start doing that, I don't think that we will be getting anywhere."

Kerry also is concerned new legislative action would be a sign of bad faith to America's negotiating partners, which were Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia. The US is banking on them to enforce existing oil and financial restrictions on Tehran and to press Iran into a final nuclear deal next year.

Appearing at a weekend think-tank forum, President Barack Obama said he believed the chances for such a comprehensive nuclear agreement are 50-50 or worse.

Still, he defended diplomacy as the best way to prevent Tehran from acquiring atomic weapons.

He also rejected criticism from Israel's government and many in Congress that his administration bargained away too much without securing a complete halt to Iran's nuclear programme - as demanded by the international community for several years.

Obama said the interim agreement forces the Islamic republic to eliminate higher-enriched uranium stockpiles, stop adding new centrifuges and cease work at a heavy water reactor that potentially could produce plutonium. It also provides time to see if the crisis can be averted through negotiation, he said.

Iran insists its programme is solely for peaceful nuclear energy and medical research.

In Washington, Republican and Democratic lawmakers are leery.

They credit crippling petroleum, banking and trade sanctions levied on Iran in recent years with bringing its more moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, to power and his representatives to the negotiating table. They argue more pressure, not less, could break Iran's will and secure better terms in a final agreement.

Read more on:    john kerry  |  hassan rouhani  |  iran  |  iran nuclear programme

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Millions of plastic particles in our food!

Scientists and researchers believe that almost five million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year and it’s affecting our food.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

Trying to keep time for your social commitments and friendships as well as taking care of work and health obligations can be more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.