China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - AP

New penal­ties from the United States against Iran ap­pear a done deal as the Is­lamic repub­lic’s new pres­i­dent takes over.

In a let­ter to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, 76 se­na­tors are de­mand­ing tougher pun­ish­ment on Iran’s econ­omy un­til it scales back its nu­clear pro­gram.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is con­cerned Congress’ ef­fort could un­der­cut Iran’s rel­a­tively mod­er­ate Pres­i­dent-elect Hasan Rowhani, who took the oath of of­fice on Sun­day. re­gard­ing stalled talks on Iran’s nu­clear drive.

Iran has held re­peated rounds of talks with the so­called P5+ 1 group, which com­prises China, Bri­tain, France, Rus­sia, the US and Ger­many, but there has been no clear progress to­ward end­ing a decade-long dis­pute.

Khamenei has so far blocked di­rect talks with the US over the nu­clear is­sue, say­ing Wash­ing­ton is “not trust­wor­thy” as a ne­go­ti­at­ing part­ner. The EU and the US have slapped sanc­tions on Iran over its re­fusal to sus­pend ura­nium en­rich­ment. Western pow­ers and Is­rael sus­pect Iran is de­vel­op­ing nu­clear weapons, but Te­heran in­sists its ac­tiv­i­ties are only peace­ful.

Over the past two years, the sanc­tions have sent in­fla­tion in Iran soar­ing to more than 30 per­cent while the Ira­nian rial has lost nearly 70 per­cent of its value against the US dol­lar and cre­ated dou­ble-digit un­em­ploy­ment.

Rowhani said the Ira­ni­ans ex­pect “sta­bil­ity in all fields, and the re­moval of all con­cerns and bot­tle­necks that Iran faces”, warn­ing that “sat­is­fy­ing the de­mands of the peo­ple ... will not hap­pen at once”.

Hua Lim­ing, for­mer Chi­nese ambassador to Iran, said the fu­ture of Iran-West re­la­tions de­pend on how the two sides in­ter­act with each other.

“De­spite be­ing more flex­i­ble, Rowhani is un­likely to fun­da­men­tally change the coun­try’s nu­clear stance, while if the West im­poses in­creas­ing sanc­tions to it, the op­por­tu­ni­ties for dia­logue will be more elu­sive,” said Hua, re­fer­ring to a sanc­tion bill tar­get­ing Iran that the US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives passed last week.

AFP con­trib­uted to this story.

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