(Persia Digest) – An Analyst of US affairs in Iran believes: “The US president does not have the power to lift sanctions imposed on Iran. Congress ratified the sanctions and it can only lift the sanctions with a majority vote.”
Yesterday, President Hassan Rouhani addressed the US by saying: “If sanctions are lifted here and now, we are ready for talks.”
Trump has stated his preference for talks with Tehran many times over the past year. At the same time, he has pursued the policy of maximum pressure and sanctions.
The following is an interview conducted by Persia Digest (PD) with US analyst in Tehran, Amir-Ali Abol-Fath.
The Iranian President has proposed that if sanctions are lifted Tehran is ready for talks. Do you believe Donald Trump will accept this?
Pompeo announced last night that ‘this offer was made to John Kerry and Barack Obama which led to the JCPOA which President Trump and I both believe was a disaster.’ It seems from Pompeo’s answer that Trump will not accept the offer.
But Trump has on many occasions asked to talk with Iran. Does he intend to negotiate while Iran is under sanctions?
If we consider North Korea as an example, the Americans believe this country must implement all nuclear and missile disarmament measures. After verifying and ensuring that its missile and nuclear capabilities are irreversible, the US will agree to lift sanctions. The US will not lift sanctions during talks and there are no guarantees that it will do so after all demands by the White House have been met.
According to US law, the president is not authorized to lift sanctions, regardless of whether Obama or Trump are in office. Sanctions on Iran were ratified by Congress and must be cancelled by Congress. US presidents are only authorized to suspend sanctions, but Congress needs a majority vote to lift them. Even if Iran negotiates with the US and meets all their demands in the twelve points mentioned by Pompeo, Trump cannot lift the sanctions.
Is the offer of talks by Iran only about the JCPOA and nuclear program?
Iran says discussions can be conducted on the nuclear issue if the US returns to the JCPOA. But Trump believes everything must be discussed afresh to meet the demands mentioned in the twelve points published by Pompeo in the media. This includes Iran cutting support for Hezbollah, which is unacceptable.
So, talks between Iran and the US will not take place as long as Trump is in the White House?
This is possible under two conditions. First, if the US loses all hope of destroying the Iranian economy under sanctions pressure. If the Iranian economy resists and flourishes rather than fall apart, the US will conclude that talks are the only way.
Second, Iran’s breakout time must be reduced. Presently, this is one year. According to the US, this was two to three weeks before the JCPOA. In other words, Iran was able to make a bomb within two to three weeks. The current stage by stage reduction of its commitments under the deal will enable Iran to produce a bomb within two months. The US may accept to talk when Iran obtains the technology to make a nuclear bomb. Otherwise, negotiations between Tehran and Washington are highly unlikely.