March 10, 2014
Iran foreign minister says nuclear deal dead if US passes new sanctions
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has warned that the Iranian nuclear deal would be dead if the US Congress imposes new sanctions, even if they do not take effect for six months.
In a transcript of an interview, which was conducted on Saturday and posted online on Monday, Time magazine said it asked Zarif what happens if Congress imposes new sanctions, even if they do not go into effect for six months.
According to the magazine, he replied: "The entire deal is dead." Zarif was referring to a November 24 interim agreement with six world powers under which Tehran would curb its nuclear program in exchange for limited relief from economic sanctions over the next six months.
Zarif's comments had little effect on US Senators, who are preparing legislation to impose new sanctions on Iran in six months if the deal reached in Geneva goes nowhere.
The Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez, and Republican Senator Mark Kirk are close to agreeing on legislation that would target Iran's remaining oil exports, foreign exchange reserves and strategic industries, aides said today.
The legislation faces an uphill battle amid opposition from the White House. It would seek to limit the ability of President Barack Obama's administration to waive sanctions on Iran and also reimpose sanctions if Tehran reneges on the Geneva agreement.
Zarif said Iran would not be pressured.
"We do not like to negotiate under duress," Zarif added. "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.
"I know the domestic complications and various issues inside the United States, but for me that is no justification. I have a parliament. My parliament can also adopt various legislation that can go into effect if negotiations fail," he added. "But if we start doing that, I don't think that we will be getting anywhere."