President Obama. (AP/Susan Walsh) (AP/Susan Walsh)
Obama

Obama is willing to explore the immediate lifting of sanctions on Iran, in contrast to what was agreed upon in the talks.  

Ayatollah Khamenei

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. (mypetjawa.mu.nu)

In what appears to be another concession by US President Barack Obama to Iranian demands, the American leader said he would be willing to discuss the immediate lifting of sanctions on Iran after signing a final deal regarding its nuclear program.

Speaking Friday at a White House joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Obama said he has left open the door to “creative negotiations” in response to Iran’s demand that sanctions be immediately lifted as part of a nuclear deal. The initial agreement calls for the penalties to be removed in phases, in tandem with Iran’s compliance with the deal.

Asked at the press conference whether he will definitively rule out the lifting of sanctions at once as part of a final deal, Obama said he didn’t want to get ahead of negotiators in working through the potential sticking point. His main concern, he explained, was making sure that if Iran violates an agreement, sanctions can quickly be reinstated — the so-called “snap back” provision.

“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,” Obama said, adding that part of the job for Secretary of State John Kerry and the representatives of the other P5+1 nations working to reach a final deal with Iran by June 30 “is to sometimes find formulas that get to our main concerns while allowing the other side to make a presentation to their body politic that is more acceptable.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani insisted last week that they would not sign a deal unless it includes the lifting of all sanctions on Iran on its first day of implementation.

Obama initially portrayed the Iranian leaders’ comments as a reflection of internal political pressure, while pointing out that the initial framework agreement reached earlier this month allows for sanctions to be phased out once international monitors verify that Tehran is abiding by the limitations. The sanctions issue “will require some creative negotiations by John Kerry and others,” he said.

The lifting of the sanctions is potentially dangerous for the Middle East as it would fill Iran’s treasury with funds it could use to fund its terror network and destabilization of the region.

Obama Tough at Home, Soft Internationally

Obama said he will sign legislation expected to pass the Senate and House giving Congress a say on a final deal, calling it a “reasonable compromise” that addresses his previous objections to Congress oversight.

The legislation would block Obama from waiving congressional sanctions against Iran for at least 30 days after any final agreement, which would give lawmakers time to weigh in and review the agreement.

An S-300 battery on parade in Moscow. (Vovan/wikicommons)

An S-300 battery on parade in Moscow. (Vovan/wikicommons)

He said he takes lawmakers who have drafted the legislation at their word that they will not try to derail negotiations.

Obama also weighed in on Russia’s announcement earlier this week that it would lift a five-year ban on delivery of anti-aircraft missiles, giving the Islamic Republic’s military a strong deterrent against any air attack. The White House initially objected, but Obama said, “I’m frankly surprised that it held this long.”

Russia signed the $800-million contract to sell Iran the S-300 missile system in 2007, but suspended their delivery three years later because of strong objections from the United States and Israel. “Their economy is under strain and this was a substantial sale,” Obama said.

Russia, which also is party to the talks along with China, France, Britain and Germany, said the preliminary nuclear agreement made its 2010 ban on sending missiles to Iran no longer necessary.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff

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