British, French, German and EU foreign ministers oppose new Iran sanctions

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Four top European diplomats came out in opposition to new Iran sanctions, saying they could scuttle nuclear talks.

“Introducing new hurdles at this critical stage of the negotiations, including through additional nuclear-related sanctions legislation on Iran, would jeopardize our efforts at a critical juncture,” said the Op-Ed appearing Thursday in the Washington Post signed by the foreign ministers of France, Britain and Germany, along with the European Union representative for foreign policy.

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Britain, France and Germany, together with the United States, Russia and China, are the major powers conducting the nuclear talks with Iran.

The appeal comes as Republicans, with some Democratic support and with the strong backing of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, hope to push through new sanctions that would trigger should Iran walk away from nuclear talks with the major powers.

President Barack Obama opposes the new sanctions and said this week in his State of the Union address that he would veto any new sanctions bill. A number of prominent Democrats have voiced support for his veto threat.

The Op-Ed echoed Obama’s claims that new sanctions would unravel the international sanctions regime that brought Iran to talks aimed at exchanging sanctions relief for guarantees that Iran is not advancing toward a nuclear weapon.

“While many Iranians know how much they stand to gain by overcoming isolation and engaging with the world, there are also those in Tehran who oppose any nuclear deal,” the Op-Ed said.

“We should not give them new arguments,” it said. “New sanctions at this moment might also fracture the international coalition that has made sanctions so effective so far. Rather than strengthening our negotiating position, new sanctions legislation at this point would set us back.”

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama’s former secretary of state and likely to declare for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, reiterated her opposition to new sanctions.

“Why do we want to be the catalyst for the collapse of negotiations?” Clinton said Wednesday in Winnipeg, speaking at a luncheon event sponsored by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

“If we’re the reason — through our Congress — that in effect gives Iran and others the excuse not to continue the negotiations, that would be, in my view, a very serious strategic error,” Clinton said in remarks first reported by The Jerusalem Post.