SHAFAQNA – Iran said on Wednesday it would only accept a deal over its contested nuclear program if world powers simultaneously lifted all sanctions imposed on it.
The comments by President Hassan Rouhani came the day after U.S. President Barack Obama was forced to give Congress a say in any future accord — including the right of lawmakers to veto the lifting of sanctions imposed by the U.S.
Bolstering the role of a highly assertive Congress injects an element of uncertainty into the crucial final stages of negotiations between major powers and Iran, which are aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for relief from sanctions.
“If there is no end to sanctions, there will not be an agreement,” Rouhani said in a televised speech in the northern Iranian city of Rasht, echoing remarks made last week by Iran’s most powerful authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“The end of these negotiations and a signed deal must include a declaration of cancelling the oppressive sanctions on the great nation of Iran,” said Rouhani, who is widely viewed as a pragmatist.
A tentative deal between Iran and the six world powers was reached in Switzerland on April 2, and aimed at clearing the way for a final settlement on June 30.
Discussions will resume on April 21. However, different interpretations have emerged over what was agreed in the framework, suggesting that nailing down a final agreement will be tough, even without the added complication of Congress.
Many Congressmen have been highly critical of the U.S.-led negotiations, supporting Israel, which has said the framework proposal will not prevent Iran from developing atomic arms. Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.