UK presses Senate to delay Iran sanctions


Great Britain has become the latest U.S. ally to tell Congress what to do about Iran sanctions.

In an exclusive op-ed for The Hill, the country's ambassador to Washington argues that negotiations that restart Wednesday in Geneva represent a “critical week for diplomacy.” Slapping new sanctions on Iran now — as Israel and its allies are pressing the Senate to do — could derail any chance at a peaceful settlement, Sir Peter Westmacott writes.

“We are keeping up the pressure. But further sanctions now would only hurt negotiations and risk eroding international support for the sanctions that have brought us this far,” Westmacott writes. “The time for additional measures will come if Iran reneges on the deal or if negotiations fail. Now is not that time.”

Great Britain has responded to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's overtures even more forcefully than the Obama administration, with both countries appointing nonresident Charges d’Affaires last week. Prime Minister David Cameron called Rouhani on Tuesday, the first British leader to call an Iranian president since Tony Blair right after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Israel meanwhile has launched a full-court press for the Senate to pass more sanctions and oppose a proposed deal that would loosen sanctions in exchange for Iran freezing the most advanced parts of its nuclear program. The heavy lobbying forced President Obama to meet with top senators Tuesday at the White House, where he personally asked them to back off for the sake of diplomacy.

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