Reports Say Talks Underway among World Powers o Lift Anti-Iran Sanctions
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Discussions are underway among world powers about a United Nations Security Council resolution to ease anti-Iran sanctions if a deal is reached on Tehran’s nuclear energy program, media reports said.
Unnamed Western officials were quoted by Reuters on Thursday that major world powers have begun talks about a Security Council resolution to lift UN sanctions on Iran if a nuclear agreement is struck with Tehran.
The resolution could make it harder for the US Congress to undo a deal, they said.
Meanwhile, some diplomats from UN Security Council told the Russian TASS news agency that the council has not yet started discussing a possible resolution on lifting international sanctions from Iran.
"No discussions are held in New York (UN headquarters) now on this issue," a diplomat from one of Western countries said. "At the moment, the possibility of adopting such a resolution was only discussed in the framework of P5+1 ((Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany) group," he said.
Another diplomat noted that "in principal" the talks are already held on possibility of lifting sanctions from Iran, but not on the level of UN Security Council.
Iran and the sextet of world powers (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) are in talks to hammer out a final agreement to end more than a decade of impasse over Tehran’s nuclear energy program.
The two sides held bilateral and multilateral negotiations in the Swiss city of Geneva in February to narrow down the remaining differences ahead of a deadline for a final agreement by July 1.
The negotiations are scheduled to resume next week.
There are several UN resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran. Tehran sees their removal as crucial since UN measures are a legal basis for more stringent US and European Union measures to be enforced.
US Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress on Wednesday that an Iran nuclear deal would not be legally binding, meaning future US presidents could decide not to implement it.
That point was emphasized in an open letter by 47 Republican senators sent on Monday to Iran's leaders asserting any deal could be discarded once President Barack Obama leaves office in January 2017.
But a Security Council resolution on a nuclear deal with Iran could be legally binding, say Western diplomatic officials.
That could complicate and possibly undercut future attempts by Republicans in Washington to unravel an agreement.
A senior US administration official confirmed that the discussions were underway, Reuters reported.
The official said that the Security Council had mandated the negotiations over the UN sanctions and therefore has to be involved. The core role in negotiations with Iran that was being played by the five permanent members meant that any understanding over UN sanctions would likely get endorsed by the full council, the official added.
"There is an interesting question about whether, if the Security Council endorses the deal, that stops Congress undermining the deal," a Western diplomat said.
Other Western officials said Republicans might be deterred from undermining any deal if the Security Council unanimously endorses it and demonstrates that the world is united in favor of a diplomatic solution to the 12-year nuclear standoff.
Concerns that Republican-controlled Congress might try to derail a nuclear agreement have been fueled by the letter to Iran's leaders and a Republican invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress in a March 3 speech that railed against a nuclear deal with Iran.
Among questions facing negotiators as they seek to prepare a resolution for the Security Council is the timing and speed of lifting UN nuclear sanctions, including whether to present it in March if a political framework agreement is signed next week or to delay until a final deal is reached by the end-June target.