Obama vows to veto anti-Iran deal legislation

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he would veto a bill seeking to prevent the United States from meeting its obligations under the nuclear deal struck between Iran and six world powers last summer.

The Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week and would reach the House floor on Wednesday. Sixty-two, mostly Republican, lawmakers have co-sponsored the bill, authored by Congressman Steve Russell. Since Republicans control both chambers of the US Congress, they plan to continue using their strength to derail the Iranian nuclear deal.

“The president has made it clear that he will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation” of the deal, the White House said in a statement sent to the media on Tuesday. “If the President were presented with H.R. 3662 [the Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act], he would veto the bill.”

The US media reported on Tuesday that Iran was just days away from receiving certification that it had met its obligations under the nuclear deal reached in July last year.

The certification will open the door to billions of dollars in sanctions relief, as agreed in the deal, which is officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The report noted that Iran had removed the core of its Arak heavy water nuclear reactor and filled it with cement in one of the final steps towards meeting its obligations.

Iran had already moved bulk of its enriched uranium to Russia, as agreed in the deal.

Under the deal, the United States is required to lift its nuclear-related sanctions against Iran after the International Atomic Energy Agency certifies that Tehran has completed all of its initial obligations. The agency is expected to send this notification to Washington, and five other international powers that co-signed the deal, later this week.

But the bill passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee “would not allow the president to remove Iranian individuals and entities from the list maintained by the Office of Foreign Asset Control of the Department of the Treasury unless the Administration can certify the entity is not a terror financier, human rights abuser or involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction”.

It would also provide Congress with “advanced oversight”, requiring quarterly reports from the administration on the sanctions regime.

The bill seeks to prevent the US administration from meeting its obligations stipulated in the deal. The movers hope that the US failure to lift the sanctions as required would force Iran to cancel the deal.

The White House also underlined the movers’ intention in its statement, noting that it “would prevent the United States from implementing JCPOA by tying the Administration’s ability to fulfil US commitments under the deal to unrelated, non-nuclear issues”.

The administration said that the bill included provisions “that connect the United States’ JCPOA commitment to provide sanctions relief by delisting certain Iran related individuals and entities, including banks, to non-nuclear issues outside of the scope of the JCPOA”, and also provisions that would “effectively preclude delisting of individuals or entities on Implementation Day”.

The White House warned that the proposed legislation “could result in the collapse of a comprehensive diplomatic arrangement that peacefully and verifiably prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon”.

By Dawn