Iran's foreign minister has warned that the historic nuclear deal agreed in Geneva will be "dead" if the US Congress moves ahead with threats to pass new sanctions.
Javad Zarif told Time that any new sanctions would show a "lack of seriousness" by the US, breaching the terms of last month's interim deal and scuppering hopes for a comprehensive agreement on Iran's nuclear deal.

His intervention comes as the White House fights to stop the Senate from passing fresh sanctions designed to kick in if no final deal is reached or Iran breaches the terms of the Geneva accord.
John Kerry, the US secretary of state, will appear before Congress on Tuesday and argue that any sanctions would undermine the delicate diplomatic progress made in recent months.

Mr Zarif, his Iranian counter-part, echoed that argument when asked how Tehran would respond to new American sanctions.
"The entire deal is dead," he said. "We do not like to negotiate under duress."
The American-educated diplomat added: "If Congress adopts sanctions, it shows lack of seriousness and lack of a desire to achieve a resolution on the part of the United States." 

Mr Kerry is attempting to undermine efforts by Republican senators and and a handful of Democrats to pass new sanctions despite the White House's objections.
Under plans being discussed in the Senate, the new bill would allow a six-month grace period for Iran to agree a deal with the six-nation bloc of the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany, known as the P5+1.

The grace period could be extended by up to 60 days if a deal appeared close. However, if no agreement was reached then new sanctions would kick in.
The House of Representatives is only in session until Friday, leaving a small window for senators to reach an agreement, pass their bill and send it to the lower chamber.

Republican and Israeli sources said they were concerned that Democrats in the Senate, acting under pressure from the White House, would slow-walk the legislation and prevent it from passing in time.

Mr Zarif said the path to a final agreement was "rather straightforward" but admitted that there were issues about verifying that any continued uranium enrichment programme remained peaceful.

"It is our intention that it will remain exclusively peaceful but how we give them the necessary assurances that it will remain peaceful that may be one of the more difficult areas," he said.

1780 reads | 13.12.2013

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