Iran: Congressional oversight efforts won't disrupt nuclear negotiating process

Top Iranian negotiator aims to downplay impact of US lawmakers on final nuclear deal with world powers.

April 20, 2015 18:27
2 minute read.
US and Iranian negotiators meet in Lausanne for nuclear talks

US and Iranian negotiators meet in Lausanne for nuclear talks. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Efforts made by the US Congress to ensure oversight on any final nuclear deal with Iran will not deter from the diplomatic process between the Islamic Republic and world powers, Tehran's top negotiator said Monday.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi criticized US lawmakers for moves he said opposed the principles of good will by seeking to pass legislation that would allow Congressional review of any comprehensive nuclear deal, Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency reported.

"We are negotiating with six countries and the approvals of a country's Congress cannot distort the process (of the talks)," Fars quoted him as saying to reporters.

Araqchi added that Iran viewed the Obama administration as the sole, legitimate American decision-making body involved in the process.

"We assume the US administration as to be responsible for the undertakings that it will accept in a possible agreement and it should implement them and they, themselves, should settle their problems with the Congress domestically," he was quoted as saying.

Araqchi's remarks came after the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a bill last week with overwhelming bipartisan support – and endorsement from the White House – that will grant Congress oversight powers for an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.

The draft language of the bill granted Congress the opportunity to vote yes or no on an eventual agreement, which is currently being negotiated between the US, Iran and other world powers.

The Obama administration has embraced the compromise reached on Capitol Hill that will grant Congress review powers over an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.

Explaining US President Barack Obama’s decision last Tuesday to back away from his threats to veto any and all legislation on Iran during the negotiating period, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said that “significant steps” had been taken by Republican members to make the bill a bipartisan measure.

If passed, the law would require the president to submit any agreement to Congress in its entirety within days of its signing, allowing Congress to review the deal and – should its leadership choose to do so – vote to approve or disapprove of congressional participation in the deal.

Should Congress choose to hold such a vote, and should it vote to disapprove of the agreement, the president could veto the resolution.

Congress would have to then pass the resolution a second time with a two-thirds majority.

Michael Wilner contributed to this report.

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