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Obama Says Iran Bill Will Not Derail Negotiations

  • RFE/RL

U.S. President Barack Obama said on April 17 he does not see proposed legislation in Congress derailing negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program.

Obama called the bill allowing Congress to review any deal a "reasonable compromise" that he planned to sign.

In a news conference at the White House, Obama said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Bob Corker and the panel's top Democrat, Ben Cardin, have assured him the bill will not include amendments that could kill any deal with Iran.

The United States, France, Russia, China, Britain and Germany agreed on a framework deal with Iran on April 2.

They are now hoping to finalize a comprehensive agreement to scale down Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief by a June 30 deadline.

Tehran denies it is secretly developing nuclear weapons as some Western nations suspect.

Speaking alongside visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Obama said he took lawmakers at their word that they would not add "poison pills" to the legislation to try to kill the deal.

On April 14, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved an amended version of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 that would allow Congress to review a deal before any U.S. sanctions on Iran are lifted.

The measure would require Obama to submit the text of the agreement to Congress and prohibit the suspension of sanctions while legislators examine the deal.

The bill must now be considered by the full Senate and House of Representatives.

The White House had earlier threatened to veto the proposal, but lawmakers softened the proposal by decreasing the time period for Congress to review the deal and making other changes.

Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have insisted that lawmakers have a say over the Iran deal.

Iran and the United States differ on how fast sanctions would be lifted if they reached an agreement.

Iran wants immediate relief and the White House insists sanctions must be gradually lifted.

Obama played down the differences, saying, "Our main concern here is making sure that if Iran doesn't abide by its agreement, that we don't have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops in order to reinstate sanctions."

With reporting by Reuters, dpa and AP
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