April 18, 2015


U.S. Suggests Compromise on Iran Sanctions (CAROL E. LEE and  JAY SOLOMON, April 17, 2015, WSJ)

President Barack Obama suggested on Friday that Iran could receive significant economic relief immediately after concluding a deal to curb its nuclear program, a gesture towards one of Tehran's key demands.

Mr. Obama said such a move would depend on the final accord allowing international sanctions to be quickly re-imposed if Tehran violated the agreement it is now negotiating with global powers. The administration has said the U.S. prefers sanctions would be lifted in phases as Iran meets certain requirements.

"Our main concern here is making sure that if Iran doesn't abide by its agreement that we don't have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops in order to reinstate sanctions," the president said at a news conference. "It will require some creative negotiations," Mr. Obama said, adding, "I'm confident it will be successful."

Such solutions could potentially include a faster timetable for lifting sanctions and also freeing up tens of billions of dollars in Iranian oil revenue that has been frozen, though Mr. Obama made no reference to that money.

Obama could ease Iran sanctions without Congress (Yakima Herald,  APRIL 17, 2015)

Only Congress can terminate its legislative sanctions. And those are some of the toughest penalties against Iran because they target its energy sector, central bank and key segments of its economy. But experts say Obama can neutralize the effect of some of those sanctions, too, and work with the Europeans to neutralize others.

Says Tyler Cullis, legal fellow at the National Iranian American Council, which favors an agreement: "Some have expressed doubt whether the president can provide Iran significant sanctions relief solely on the basis of his own authority. Such doubt should be put to rest."

He said the president "could almost gut" an entire segment of sanctions by taking Iran's major banks off the Treasury Department's list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List. Those on this list face asset freezes, and Americans are banned from doing business with them. Moreover, many U.S. and foreign banks and businesses have opted to steer clear of those on the list just to make sure they don't violate U.S. sanctions.

If the Europeans and other nations participating with the U.S. in the nuclear talks lift their penalties against Iran, the international sanctions regime will begin to unravel, and Cullis said Obama could tell lawmakers they should work with him to join the sanctions relief campaign.

Mark Dubowitz, a leading sanctions proponent with the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, agrees.

"It is legally possible for him to go it alone," Dubowitz said. "He can do a lot on his own and he can do a lot with the Europeans."

According to Dubowitz, if the Europeans lift the Iranian oil embargo, Iran could work to increase the 1.1 million barrels a day that it's exporting now to pre-sanction levels of an estimated 2.1 million. At $50 a barrel, that would provide Iran with about $18 billion more in oil revenue every year.

Currently, those importing Iranian oil are required to pay into locked escrow accounts in a handful of countries. There's an estimated $100 billion sitting in those accounts, and that money could be released through presidential action.

"So right way, there's about $118 billion that Iran could access within about 12 months without Congress," Dubowitz said.

Iran presents four-point peace plan for Yemen (Deutsche Welle, 4/17/15)

The four-point Yemen peace plan Iran brought before the United Nations on Friday came as heavy bombing carried out by a regional coalition continued to hit the country.

Iran's proposal called for the cessation of hostilities and an immediate end to all foreign military attacks, direct delivery of medical and humanitarian aid, a resumption of political talks and the creation of a broad Yemeni unity government.

"It is imperative for the international community to get more effectively involved in ending the senseless aerial attacks and establishing a ceasefire," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote in a letter to UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

"The only way to restore peace and stability is to allow all Yemeni parties to establish, without any foreign interference, their own inclusive national unity government," the letter said.

Posted by at April 18, 2015 6:43 AM

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