USA TODAY US Edition
PRELIMINARY IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL FACES TOUGH RESISTANCE
As negotiators tackle the fine print of an Iran nuclear agreement, opponents of the deal and President Obama are campaigning for their respective causes.
Obama and his aides say the framework agreement for curbing Iran’s nuclear program is the best alternative to war and will require intense inspections to prevent Tehran from secretly developing a nuclear weapon.
The president picked up one notable endorsement Sunday: Pope Francis, who in his Easter message said he prays that the new framework “may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world.”
Opponents in Congress and some foreign nations worried about Iranian aggression are lobbying to change or kill the accord.
CONGRESS: NOT SO FAST Obama wants a final agreement that is short of a formal treaty to skirt approval by Congress, which might make changes unacceptable to Iran. But the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will take up legislation that requires congressional approval of a nuclear deal, committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said.
Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Corker said he has concerns about the agreement including how world powers could track “covert activity” by Iran. That’s “why it’s so important that Congress play its rightful role in approving this” before the “sanctions that we put in place are alleviated,” Corker said.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said he’ll “be giving the framework a very careful look.” Schumer’s emergence as the next Senate Democratic leader could give critics — now mostly Republicans — more clout, said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
A Senate bill would increase sanctions on Iran after June 30 if there is no comprehensive agreement by then. Obama has said he would veto both bills because they would derail the talks.
ISRAEL: PUT SCREWS TO IRAN Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a vehement opponent of any deal that leaves Iran’s nuclear program intact, is trying to rally Congress, world powers and Iran’s rivals in the Middle East to demand a stronger deal that ensures Iran won’t develop a nuclear bomb in secret.
Netanyahu called for tougher sanctions on Iran to force it to give up more of its nuclear program. He also questioned the effectiveness of inspections, saying Iran has cheated in the past.
DETAILS: MUCH TO BE DONE The framework agreement left key details out, including the pace of relief from cripping economic sanctions. Both sides offered differing interpretations.
Secretary of State John Kerry said that “in return for Iran’s future cooperation,” Iran could begin qualifying for sanctions relief gradually.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, however, tweeted a response that denied that sanctions relief would be gradual.