Kerry confident US Congress will approve Iran deal

Updated: 2015-04-16 07:50

By Agencies in Luebeck, Germany and Washington(China Daily)

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US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday he is confident Barack Obama will be able to get Congress to approve a nuclear deal with Iran after the US president acknowledged lawmakers will have the power to review an accord with Teheran.

"Looming large is the challenge of finishing the negotiation with Iran over the course of the next two and a half months," Kerry said after arriving in Germany for a Group of Seven foreign ministers' meeting in the northern city of Luebeck.

"Yesterday there was a compromise reached in Washington regarding congressional input. We are confident about our ability for the president to negotiate an agreement and to do so with the ability to make the world safer," he added.

In what was seen as a setback, Obama agreed on Tuesday that Congress can review any deal with Iran, giving in to pressure from Republicans and some in his own party over the issue.

The role of the Republican-controlled Congress injects a new element of uncertainty into the delicate final stages of negotiations between major powers and Iran aimed at curbing Teheran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said on Wednesday that his country will not allow US domestic politics to derail nuclear negotiations, after Obama made the concession.

"That is an issue related to their domestic affairs. We are dealing with the American government," Afkham said at a news conference carried by state television.

Iran's arch-foe Israel welcomed the compromise.

Kerry confident US Congress will approve Iran deal

"We are certainly happy this morning. This is an achievement for Israeli policy," Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israel Radio on Wednesday, citing a March 3 speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Congress in which he argued against a then-emerging framework agreement with Teheran on curbing its nuclear program.

Since a preliminary agreement was reached in Switzerland on April 2, the White House had stepped up its lobbying to persuade Democratic senators not to support the bipartisan bill that would give Congress oversight of a final deal, saying it could threaten what Obama hopes will be a legacy-defining foreign-policy achievement.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the G7 foreign ministers would listen to Kerry's assessment of negotiations with Iran and how the prospect of congressional approval might affect them.

On Wednesday, UN nuclear inspectors were in Iran on a long-stalled visit meant to investigate suspicions that Teheran worked on nuclear weapons.

The official IRNA news agency quoted Iranian nuclear spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi as saying that inspectors from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in Teheran on Wednesday to discuss "unresolved issues" surrounding a military site in Marivan, in western Iran.

Reuters - AP

(China Daily 04/16/2015 page11)