WASHINGTON (AFP) – Top US diplomats will this week make a “strong case” to lawmakers to hold off on fresh Iran sanctions, hoping to avoid an ugly political showdown which could scupper nuclear talks.
Acting Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman, who has led the tense, secretive negotiations for months, will be at the vanguard of an administration drive to persuade Congress not to push ahead with draft legislation which would slap even more punitive sanctions on Iran.
Hawkish lawmakers are eager to pass new sanctions through Congress aiming to prod the Islamic republic into a lasting deal that prevents Iranian leaders from developing a nuclear weapon.
But experts say such a move would jeopardise months of delicate diplomacy.
Sherman will brief lawmakers behind closed doors on Thursday, a State Department spokeswoman said Tuesday, ahead of a flurry of consultations over the next two weeks.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and his global partners in the P5+1 group last week missed a second deadline to nail down a comprehensive deal with Iran to rein in its suspect nuclear programme.
Instead, the seven nations agreed to extend an existing interim deal for a further seven months until June 30, with the hopes of drawing up a framework accord by March.
Under the interim deal, Iran receives limited access to its frozen oil revenues in exchange for freezing its nuclear enrichment.