Obama aide urges Congress not to impose sanctions on Iran

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Washington, March 3 (IANS) An aide to US President Barack Obama called on Congress not to impose new sanctions on Iran, warning that such a move could derail ongoing talks on Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Additional sanctions enacted during the negotiation would blow up the talks, divide the international community and cause the US to be blamed for the failure to reach a deal, said National Security Advisor Susan Rice on Monday at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Xinhua reported.

“Congress has played a hugely important role in helping to build our sanctions on Iran, but they shouldn’t play the spoiler now,” Rice added.

Rice’s remarks came one day ahead of a controversial speech to Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is expected to reiterate his objections to the talks on Iran’s nuclear programme.

Rice blasted Netanyahu’s plans to address Congress as “destructive” to the fabric of the US-Israeli relationship.

Earlier on Monday, Netanyahu told the AIPAC conference that the potential deal on Iran’s nuclear programme “could threaten the survival of Israel,” adding that he has a “moral obligation” to speak up in the face of the dangers to the Israelis.

But the Israeli leader also emphasised the strong relations between the US and Israel in an effort to play down the rift between the long-time allies caused by his planned speech to Congress.

Reports of the demise of the Israeli-US relations are not only premature, “they are just wrong,” Netanyahu said.

“Our alliance is stronger than ever.”

In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Obama said Iran must commit to a verifiable freeze of at least 10 years on sensitive nuclear activity for a landmark atomic deal to be reached, but the odds are still against sealing a final agreement.

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