President Barack Obama left open the possibility of negotiators lifting most sanctions against Iran at the start of a final nuclear deal -- rather than in phases -- so long as sanctions could be reimposed quickly if Iran violates its end of the deal.
Obama, at a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the White House on Friday, was asked if he would explicitly rule out signing a final deal unless sanctions are phased out. He said that achieving a deal will require "some creative negotiations," and that he didn't want to "get out ahead" of Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. officials working toward a June 30 deadline for an accord.
"Our main concern here is making sure that if Iran doesn't abide by its agreement, that we don't have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops in order to reinstate sanctions," Obama said. "How sanctions are lessened, how we snap back sanctions if there's a violation, there are a lot of different mechanisms and ways to do that."
Negotiators' challenge is "to sometimes find formulas that get to our main concerns while allowing the other side to make a presentation to their body politic that is more acceptable."
Obama's remarks on one of the main sticking points in negotiations over Iran's nuclear program come about a week after Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said all sanctions against his country must be lifted as soon as the accord is signed.
Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who has advised U.S lawmakers writing sanctions legislation, said Obama's remarks suggest he and European leaders are preparing to suspend sanctions "very early" in the deal's implementation and release billions of dollars in frozen oil assets.
"Obama seems prepared to give massive sanctions relief while making a massive bet on the snapback sanction, which is a highly problematic coercive instrument that will prove unworkable when facing a wall of Russian and Chinese intransigence" at the United Nations Security Council "and human greed in the markets," he said.
Read full article here.