The US secretary of state, John Kerry, and Mohammad Javad Zarif, his Iranian counterpart, have met in Lausanne (Switzerland) today in order to prepare an agreement about nuclear non-proliferation. This official meeting will be followed by another one, which will take place later today in Brussels, gathering the representatives of France, Germany, and UK, as well as the EU Foreign Policy Chief, who are to discuss measures of preventing Iran’s nuclear arming with Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The US energy secretary Ernest Moniz and the Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi were also present at this Monday’s meeting. They had a previous encounter on Sunday to try to settle the technical aspects of disarmament. The US representatives tried to persuade the Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister to change his plans about Tehran’s nuclear program, in exchange for the US and EU lifting economic sanctions. The deadline for reaching a final agreement is June 30, but there is an intermediary deadline for a political agreement on March 31.
Meanwhile, US Republicans are unwilling to suspend sanctions on Iran. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, forwarded a bill to remove President Obama’s right to suspend sanctions imposed by the Congress and to require the vote of the Congress for each deal with Iran. The White House chief of staff, Denis McDonough, sent a letter to a Republican senior party member to plead for abandoning the law project that might slow down the administration’s work on solving the Iran issue. McDonough is convinced that legislation imposing the Congress’s vote for each deal would have a strong negative impact on the current negotiations. He urged Corker to at least postpone his bill until an agreement with Iran is reached.
A week ago, 47 Republican senators wrote an open letter to Iranian authorities, with the pretext of “explaining” the US constitutional system. The letter draws attention to the fact that the Congress is responsible for ratifying international agreements, although the president is the one to negotiate them. It also mentions the approach of the end of Obama’s term, in 2017, and flaunts the difference between the president’s limited time in office and the senators’ virtually unlimited time in the Congress (provided they are re-elected). The letter explicitly says that a future president could revoke the result of current negotiations. The internal tensions between US Republicans and Democrats could have a terrible impact on the international situation.
image source: The Guardian