US lawmakers are pursuing tougher measures against Iran as Kerry pushes for a deal.
The US Congress is pushing forward with further sanctions in an attempt to hinder Iran’s nuclear aspirations, Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Wednesday.
This despite White House opposition, as the Obama Administration is hopeful that it will reach a deal with Tehran through its diplomacy efforts.
Senators Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez are finalizing a bill for tougher sanctions to go into effect if there is no agreement between the West and Iran by the next deadline, set for June 30.
Lawmakers fear that the Obama administration may settle for what could result in a bad deal with Iran. They plan to propose another bill requiring Senate approval for any agreement between Washington and Tehran, Corker told Reuters in an interview. “There are continual efforts to try to figure out a way for Congress to play a role to strengthen whatever final deal may occur.”
Kerry Pushes Ahead with Diplomacy
In the meantime, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Geneva on Wednesday for five hours in an attempt to move ahead in discussions between the P5+1 powers and Iran.
A senior State Department official said that they discussed a “broad range of issues” with a small group of staff, and he described the talks as “substantive.”
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is slated to meet with Zarif in the French capital on Friday. The meeting is scheduled for the same day that Kerry is in Paris for talks with French President Francois Hollande and Fabius in the wake of the recent wave of Islamic terror in France.
Speaking to reporters before talks began, Zarif said the meeting would help gauge whether both sides were ready for a deal. “I think it’s important. I think it will show the readiness of the two parties to move forward and to speed up the process,” Reuters quoted Zarif as saying.
Earlier, Zarif said that serious dialogue with the West would be easier if Western countries respected Muslim sensitivities, which he claims were ruffled by the most recent Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
Negotiations between the West and Iran have so far failed. Jerusalem is anxiously monitoring developments between Iran and the West. Israel is concerned that the US may settle for a dangerous deal which, according to some analysts, would enable the Obama Administration to claim a diplomatic achievement.
US President Barack Obama called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to update him on the ongoing negotiations. The American leader reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to reach a comprehensive deal with Iran that prevents the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Netanyahu has repeatedly voiced skepticism over the negotiations, warning that Iran is exploiting the temporary easing of sanctions offered by the US and its negotiating partners.
By: Atara Beck, World Israel News