The U.S. is ready to impose additional sanctions on Iran if talks about limiting the nation’s disputed nuclear activities collapse, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said.
“We have sent the very clear signal to the leadership in Tehran that if these talks do not succeed, then we are prepared to impose additional sanctions on Iran,” Lew said at the 2014 Policy Conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the biggest pro-Israel lobbying group, in Washington today. “All options remain on the table to block Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
The U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran are trying to address the most contentious aspects of Iran’s disputed nuclear program before an interim accord expires in July. Both U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have cautioned that reaching a comprehensive accord that puts international concerns to rest and is acceptable to Iran is something that may be out of reach.
U.S. officials want Iran to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure and abide by United Nations restrictions on missile development. Iran has said it won’t break down nuclear facilities and that its missile program isn’t up for discussion.
The temporary accord signed in Geneva Nov. 24 called for curbs in Iran’s program, including its 20 percent uranium enrichment and work on a heavy-water reactor. In exchange, Iran, which has the world’s fourth-biggest proven oil reserves, was granted limited sanctions relief worth as much as $7 billion, though core oil and banking restrictions were kept in place.
“You may hear some say that the very narrow relief in the interim agreement has unraveled the sanctions regime or eased the chokehold on Iran’s economy,” Lew said today. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Iran will lose about $30 billion in oil sales alone from the sanctions that remain in place during the six-month period of relief, Lew said.
“As President Obama recently said, if anyone, anywhere engages in unauthorized economic activity with Tehran, the United States will — and I quote — ‘come down on them like a ton of bricks,’” Lew said.
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