10:23 pm - Tuesday November 3, 2015

Kerry against new sanctions on Iran

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Kerry against new sanctions on Iran
Kerry against new sanctions on Iran

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is to testify Wednesday behind closed doors in the US Senate, where he is expected to make an appeal against a rising push for more sanctions against Iran.

Officials said that another round of new sanctions against Iran, which have already crippled it enough to bring it to the negotiating table, would be ill timed and threaten delicate diplomacy.

“At this point in the negotiations, it’s not a vote for or against sanctions, it’s a vote for or against diplomacy,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Kerry is to brief the Senate Banking Committee on the status of renewed negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme.

The White House repeated its stance that military action against Iran’s nuclear programme was still on the table, but said President Barack Obama’s responsibility was “to pursue a diplomatic opening to see if it is possible to resolve this issue peacefully.” Talks ended on Monday with Iran agreeing to allow more extensive international inspections of its civilian nuclear programme, but an agreement signed with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) postponed a probe of alleged nuclear weapons projects.

Psaki said she expected Kerry to convey to the senators that the sanctions were in place to get Iran to the negotiating table, the “point where we almost are now.” Kerry and much of the Obama administration feel it’s time to pause before enacting new sanctions, while keeping current sanctions in place, she said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said that “no one is suggesting an open-ended delay for new sanctions, because there may come a point where additional sanctions are necessary.” The cautioning against a new round of sanctions was “a decision to support diplomacy and a possible peaceful resolution to this issue,” Carney said.

“The American people do not want a march to war,” Carney said. The IAEA on Tuesday indicated it had adopted a new gradual approach to get access to Iran’s nuclear programme in order to break a deadlock over inspections.

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano made the remarks after Iran agreed to provide more information about its nuclear sites. The deal signed Monday in Tehran fell short of allowing the IAEA to inspect alleged nuclear weapons projects.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged world powers not to rush into signing a “dangerous” deal with Iran.

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