Tension between the two arch-foes increased in October when Washington accused Tehran of organizing a plot for assassination of the Saudi ambassador to the United States and has heated up when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported the Islamic state appeared to be conducting secret research that may relate to design a nuclear bomb.
“The legislation passed by voice vote in the foreign affairs committee of the U.S. house of representatives just last week is certainly the toughest sanction that have ever been placed on any country,” said Dana Marshall, a former senior advisor to the White House, congress and Department of Commerce in an interview with Horizon (Ofogh).
The IAEA’s Wednesday report said information indicates that Iran worked on the design of an atomic weapon, and tested the components of such a weapon as part of what the agency calls a "structured" program before 2003. Iran, the report says, might still be engaged in related research.
Head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry (D-MA), said "I intend to work closely with the Administration to take whatever additional necessary and productive steps to get Iran to meet the coalition’s demands."
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee also said in response to the IAEA’s latest report that: “The Congress can ratchet up that pressure by passing two new bills targeting Iran which were recently unanimously adopted by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”
Marshall believes the sponsors of tougher sanctions on Iran at both the Congress and the House want to move very quickly and said: “what passed by one very important committee of the House, does not mean that is exactly the bill that would be submitted to the president. The Senate still has to act … several versions of bills submitted in the senate.”
He further pointed to a historical tension between the congress and the administration in terms of who speaks on foreign policy and raised his skepticism over the administration’s acceptance of all provisions currently under discussion with “tight hands”.
Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing on trade sanctions law and expert of issues relating the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), agreed with Marshall’s opinion over the administration’s stance and cast doubts of a U.S. rapid decision on the new sanctions and predicted the move “will be facing problems”.
Ferrari pointed to a specific provision denying export licenses for U.S. origin parts related to civil aviation to Iran and targets the safety of civilian population, as a part of the move that might face problems, and said: “it’s definitely not an easy thing to reconcile.”
“On one hand the U.S. government wants to preclude parts that are going to be used for military purposes in Iran, but on the other hand there is the issue of not wanting the sanctions impede upon the safety of the Iranian civilian population,” Ferrari said.
“If it ultimately passed, then we would see a very different law,” Ferrari continued.
The two experts did not expect the approval of new set of sanctions before the yearend.
PATH OF DIPLOMACY
EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton in October made it clear that there must be no repeat of the last round of talks with Iran in January which made no progress. Ashton leads the efforts to negotiate with Iran on behalf of the six world powers.
Marshall, the senior international economic policy advisor to the vice-president Al Gore, see less desire in the West over such talks saying “there were many who have come to feel that those negotiations and discussions have not yielded anything practical.”
“Diplomacy sometimes is good … but I think many people think what is needed here is results.”
Unlike Marshall, some still believe the path of diplomacy has not reached to end and the West should push for a diplomatic solution on the Islamic state’s nuclear ambition, rather than imposing tougher sanctions.
“I believe the way to get the result is through dialogue,” said Ferrari in the same show on Wednesday.Proposals for new sanctions against Iran may target the Central Bank of the world's fifth largest oil producer as well as more country’s officials including the supreme leader, the president and a group of lawmakers and members of the Revolutionary Guards in addition to those who had already been enlisted in the U.S. sanctions.