WASHINGTON: More sanctions against Iran over its nuclear ambitions would destroy painstaking international talks with Tehran, an advisor to US President Barack Obama warned Congress today.
“Congress has played a hugely important role in helping to build our sanctions on Iran, but they shouldn’t play the spoiler now. Additional sanctions or restrictive legislation enacted during the negotiation would blow up the talks, divide the international community and cause the United States to be blamed for the failure to reach a deal,” said National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
Rice said an Iran with a nuclear bomb would threaten both Israel and the US.
“Given their support for terrorism, the risk for a nuclear arms race in the region and the danger to the entire global nonproliferation regime, an Iran with a nuclear weapon would not just be a threat to Israel, it is also an unacceptable threat to the United States of America," she said.
The statement from the White House comes amid a crisis between Washington and Israel over Tehran’s atomic ambitions.Netanyahu and Obama spar over Iran nuclear deal
Earlier in the day, US President Barack Obama pointedly warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he had been wrong about Iran’s nuclear program before as well.
On the eve of a landmark speech to the US Congress, Netanyahu declared that a US-Iran deal on curtailing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions “could threaten the survival of Israel.”
He spoke even as US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif met in Switzerland for talks which are expected to end Wednesday.
But Obama and his leading foreign policy officials did not leave the field to the Israeli leader, insisting their plan was the best way to contain Iran’s alleged threat.
Referring to criticism of a previous interim US-Iran deal that paved the way for this week´s ongoing talks in Switzerland, Obama said: "Netanyahu made all sorts of claims.
"This was going to be a terrible deal," he told Reuters. "This was going to result in Iran getting $50 billion worth of relief. Iran would not abide by the agreement. None of that has come true."
Netanyahu’s lobbying trip to Washington came as Kerry was in Geneva and culminates on Tuesday with the address to Congress, seen as a last-ditch bid to derail that effort, one of the last key goals of Obama’s foreign policy.
The pace of the negotiations to hammer out a deal to rein in Iran’s suspected nuclear arms program in exchange for sanctions relief has gathered pace as a March 31 deadline nears.