Publishe Date: 8:40 PM - 10/2/2013 | Print

US Senate postpones Iran bans until Geneva talks

Politics - A US lawmaker says the Senate will not impose a fresh round of sanctions on Iran until after the upcoming talks between Tehran and the six major world powers in Geneva.

The Senate Banking Committee was due in September to discuss a new package of sanctions on Iran’s oil exports and other economic sectors, which was passed in July by the House of Representatives.

Bob Corker, a senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations and Banking Committees, told Reuters on Tuesday that the idea of deliberately postponing the sanctions was proposed to improve the mood for the Geneva talks.

“There's been some discussion about whether it's best right now, while the negotiations are occurring, just to keep the existing ones (sanctions) in place,” Corker said.

Meanwhile, congressional aides familiar with the issue said some officials within the administration of US President Barack Obama have been quietly pressing for Congress to hold off imposing the bans.

On Monday, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton also asked Washington to create the best atmosphere for talks with Iran.

“I would like to get to Geneva with the best possible atmosphere to really have these negotiations,” Ashton said, stressing the need for good faith ahead of the upcoming talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security council - Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States - plus Germany .

Iran and the six major world powers have held several rounds of talks on a range of issues, with the main focus being on Tehran’s nuclear energy program.

The foreign ministers of Iran and the six countries held their latest round of negotiations at the United Nations headquarters in New York on September 26.

The UN meeting was chaired by Ashton, who announced that the parties would meet again in Geneva on October 15-16 to discuss Iran’s nuclear program.

After the meeting, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said, “The tone and spirit of the meeting we've had has been very good, and indeed a big improvement on the tone and spirit of previous meetings on this issue and I pay tribute to minister Zarif for that.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry also said Washington could begin removing bans on Tehran within months if a “transparent process is in place” over the nuclear issue.

On September 27, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his US counterpart had a landmark phone conversation, the first direct communication between an Iranian and a US president since Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, during which the two presidents stressed Tehran and Washington’s political will to swiftly resolve the nuclear dispute.

The United States, Israel and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program, with the US and the European Union using the unsubstantiated claim as an excuse to impose illegal sanctions against Tehran.

The bans come on top of four rounds of US-instigated UN Security Council sanctions against Iran under the same pretext.

Iran has categorically rejected the allegation, stressing that as a committed member of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, it is entitled to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

 

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