U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry have requested lawmakers to delay imposing any fresh sanction on Iran and give some more time to the negotiations that the six-nation P5 plus one are having with Tehran.
“The risk is that if Congress were to unilaterally move to raise sanctions, it could break faith with those negotiations and actually stop them and break them apart,” Mr. Kerry told reporters after he briefed members of the Congress at the Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon.
“We have the unity of P-5 plus one. In fact, the French President put out a statement this afternoon supporting where we are — and Russia, China and the U.S. are all agreed on this proposal that’s on the table, which, if it weren’t strong, why wouldn’t Iran have accepted it yet?” Mr. Kerry said.
“We have a pause because it’s a tough proposal and people need to think about it, obviously. So we believe we’ve put ourselves in the strongest position to be able to start,” Mr. Kerry said.
"This is a first step, not a final agreement. And we have words, this says nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. So we have all the opportunity of negotiations to make certain this is a peaceful program that can threaten nobody,” he said.
“What we’re asking everybody to do is calm down, look hard at what can be achieved and what the realities are,” Mr. Kerry said, adding if this doesn’t work, they reserve the right to dial back up the sanctions.
“I will be up here on the Hill asking for increased sanctions, and we always reserve the military option. So we lose absolutely nothing except for the possibility of getting in the way of diplomacy and letting it work. That’s why the sanctions were put in place in the first place. Let’s give them a few weeks, see if it works, and we have all of our options at our disposal,” he said.
The Republican leadership, however, did not appear to be convinced.
“I find it astounding that the White House would say that a deal that would allow enrichment of Uranium and building a Plutonium reactor is not a march to war. That’s the march to war,” said Congressman Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader.
“The deal that was in the works would frankly allow Iran to continue its pursuit of nuclear weapons capability. What we’re trying to do in the Congress, which we’ve already done in the House, is to pass additional sanctions. It’s up to the Senate now because the House has passed the sanctions,” he said.
“What’s very odd right now in the Middle East is you have the Arabs and the Israelis join together in their sense that American foreign policy as is played out in that potential interim agreement is something that is not helpful to the stability of the region. In fact, those allies of ours are telling us that to allow Iran the ability to continue to enrich or to build a Plutonium factory is a sure way to spawn nuclear proliferation — and God forbid, face a nuclear Iran,” Mr. Cantor said.