President Obama said Friday his “main concern” in lifting sanctions against Iran is the ability to restore the penalties quickly if Tehran violates the framework deal to curb its nuclear program, saying he’s less worried about how those sanctions are lifted at the start.
“Our main concern here is making sure that if Iran doesn’t abide by its agreement, that we don’t have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops in order to reinstate sanctions,” Mr. Obama said at a White House news conference. “How sanctions are lessened, how we snap back sanctions if there’s a violation, there are a lot of different mechanisms and ways to do that.”
Senators reached a bipartisan deal this week to force any final Iran nuclear deal to be submitted to Congress before the administration could lift any of the sanctions Congress has placed on Iran’s nuclear program. If Congress doesn’t act, Mr. Obama can lift the sanctions on his own.
Iran President Hassan Rouhani said this week that Tehran would only accept a deal over its contested nuclear program if world powers simultaneously lifted all sanctions imposed on it.
“If there is no end to sanctions, there will not be an agreement,” Mr. Rouhani said.
Mr. Obama announced earlier this month that the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China reached the outlines of a deal with the regime in Tehran that would slow work on its nuclear program and extend the amount of time it would take for the country to build an atomic weapon. In return, economic sanctions would be lifted.
The president said he will sign the Senate bill = as it stands, and said one of his concerns with the legislation was “an issue of presidential prerogatives.”
“There were a number of people who were supporting [the] legislation, suggesting that as a routine matter a president needs to get sign-off from Congress to negotiate political agreements,” Mr. Obama said. “That is not the case. That has never been the case. This is not a formal treaty that is being envisioned, and the president of the United States, whether Democrat or Republican, traditionally has been able to enter into political agreements that are binding with other countries without congressional approval.”
He said the language of the bill currently “at least allows me to interpret the legislation in such a way that it is not sending a signal to future presidents that each and every time they’re negotiating a political agreement, that they have to get a congressional authorization.”