Obama seeks 6 months time to give diplomacy a chance with Iran
Washington: Ahead of crucial nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, US President Barack Obama has asked American lawmakers to hold off from seeking additional sanctions against Tehran and give diplomacy a chance for six months.
"What we are suggesting, both to the Israelis, to members of Congress here, to the international community, but also to the Iranians, is let's look, let's test the proposition that over the next six months we can resolve this in a diplomatic fashion while maintaining the essential sanctions architecture," Obama said yesterday.
Speaking at the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council Annual Meeting, Obama also said that he will maintain "all options" to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
"I think that is a test that is worth conducting. My hope and expectation is not that we're going to solve all of this just this week in this interim phase, but rather that we're purchasing ourselves some time to see how serious the Iranian regime might be in re-entering membership in the world community and taking the yoke of these sanctions off the backs of their economy," Obama said in response to a question.
Envoys from the P5+1 group of nations — the US, UK, France, Russia and China – plus Germany — will begin a new round of negotiations with Iran in Geneva later today.
Since 2006 the UN Security Council has imposed a series of sanctions on Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.
Obama said he didn't know if an agreement would come this week or next, but he said the bulk of the sanctions regime would remain.
He said the essence of the deal would be that they would halt advances on their nuclear programme.
"We are not doing anything around the most powerful sanctions. The oil sanctions, the banking sanctions, the financial services sanctions, those are the ones that have really taken a big chunk out of the Iranian economy," he said.
Obama said Iranians "would roll back some elements that get them closer to what we call breakout capacity, where they can run for a weapon."
"In return, what we would do would be to open up the spigot a little bit for a very modest amount of relief that is entirely subject to reinstatement if, in fact, they violated any part of this early agreement. It would purchase a period of time – let's say six months, during which we could see if they could get to the end state of a position where we, the Israelis, the international community could say with confidence, Iran's not pursuing a nuclear weapon," he added.