The US government will offer slight relief from the current economic sanctions, but will not permit any easing of the central sanctions on energy and banking, which have ground the Iranian economy to a halt, without a final agreement with visible, practical results.
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Wendy Sherman, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, who leads the US delegation to the talks in Geneva, told MSNBC: "I have very clear instructions from the president and from the secretary, that we need to make sure in a first step we stop the advance of Iran's nuclear program.
"To put time on the clock, that in return for that, if they deal with all of the issues that we want them to deal with, there will be very limited sanctions relief. It would be temporary, targeted, and reversible… and that indeed the fundamental architecture of our sanction regime would remain for a final comprehensive agreement."
Negotiations: not a cover
The US government does not want the negotiations to provide Iran with cover to continue its work towards a nuclear weapon. In a New York Times article, a senior American official is quoted telling the Grey Lady's reporters. "Put simply, what we’re looking for now is a first phase, a first step, an initial understanding that stops Iran’s nuclear program from moving forward for the first time in decades and that potentially rolls part of it back."
The initial thaw of sanctions by the US would allow the Iranian government to use funds deposited in countries which purchased Iranian oil. According to a report from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which tracks the impact of sanctions on Iran, the sum made available to the Iranian government would total $90 billion. The aforementioned senior American official defined the deal as "limited, targeted and reversible sanctions relief" in return for first steps by the Iranians to curb their nuclear program.
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Senator Bob Corker, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, has drafted an amendment that would prevent any sanction relief until Iran adheres to current UN Security Council Resolutions regarding its nuclear program.
The president has the authority to issue an executive order to freeze the amendment on national security grounds; theoretically, Obama could use this option to stop the senator.
Senator Corker, a second-term senator from Tennessee, is asking for a congressional resolution to deny President Obama the aforementioned option, though sources in Congress clarified that Democratic senators would refuse to act against the president. But the Democratic senators would agree to increase the severity of sanctions against Iran if there is no progress in the talks over the following weeks, and Iran continues its quest for the nuclear bomb.
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