Obama: Sanctions deal will have to allow Iran’s leaders to save face


WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Barack Obama said a solution on sanctions must allow Iran’s leaders to present an “acceptable” version to their public.

Obama was asked at a news conference on Friday what his position was on phasing out sanctions as part of a nuclear deal with Iran. The agreement would exchange sanctions relief for restrictions aimed at keeping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

“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,” he said.

Obama then referred to the negotiators, including Secretary of State John Kerry and the P5+1, the acronym for the major powers in talks with Iran.

“Part of John’s job and part of the Iranian negotiators’ job, and part of the P5+1’s job 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,” he said.

Obama also said he was likely to sign legislation that would mandate a congressional review of any Iran deal after the bill’s sponsors deleted language opposed by his administration. The measure was approved unanimously on April 14 by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Among the stipulations in earlier versions opposed by the White House were measures that sought to shape the deal, including demands that Iran end its backing for terrorism. The White House said such provisions were a poison pill and asked for a bill that would require congressional approval and nothing else. A final Iran deal is due by June 30.

Obama praised the leaders of the committee — Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., its chairman, and Ben Cardin, D-Md., its top Democrat — for their work, and suggested that if the bill did not undergo any major changes throughout the legislative process, he would not veto it.

“Both Senator Corker and Senator Cardin, at least in my understanding, agreed that there is not going to be a whole bunch of poison pills or additional provisions or amendments added to it, and that they will be protective of this being a straightforward, fair process for Congress to be able to evaluate any deal that we may come up with, and then register its views, but that it’s not going to be tilted in the direction of trying to kill the deal,” he said.

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