Major world powers are considering a UN Security Council resolution to lift UN sanctions against Iran if a nuclear agreement is struck this month, Western officials told Reuters Thursday.
Though officials in Tehran and Washington have warned that work remains before an agreement is reached, the Security Council is seeking to law the groundwork to lift restrictions quickly should the sides come together.
“If there’s a nuclear deal, and that’s still a big ‘if’, we’ll want to move quickly on the UN sanctions issue,” an official who declined to be named told the news agency.
Iran and six world powers are currently engaged in high-stakes talks to curb Iran’s nuclear program and keep it from developing the ability to build nuclear weapons, in exchange for lifting punishing sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy.
Talks thus far have dealt primarily with easing the US and EU sanctions against Iran in exchange for the Islamic Republic curbing its nuclear enrichment program for at least 10 years.
But in this latest development, non-Iranian officials involved in the negotiations now claim to be discussing a resolution for the 15-nation Security Council that would ease the UN sanctions that have been in place against Iran since December 2006, according to Reuters.
A resolution reached by the Security Council would be legally binding on the US, and could thwart attempts by US lawmakers to scupper a deal.
On Wednesday, US Secretray of State John Kerry told US senators that a deal being worked out with Iran and Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States, Germany and Iran would not be legally binding, and thus not come under congressional oversight.
The claim came in response to a letter by 47 Republican senators earlier in the week who threatened Iran that any deal reached with the US could be revoked when US President Barack Obama leaves office.
Analysts say, though, that lifting US-imposed sanctions would need Congressional approval.
Earlier on Thursday, Senator Bob Corker sent a letter to Obama warning that striking a deal to ease sanctions via the Security Council instead of Congress would be a “direct affront to the American people.”
Speaking to reporters Thursday, US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki refused to speak about possible Security Council moves to lift sanctions, saying she did not want to get “ahead of the process.”
She said that they were “part of the discussion.”
A framework for the deal must be struck by March 31 and a final deal setting out all the technical points of what would be a complex accord by June 30.