On January 16, President Barack Obama and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron urged U.S. lawmakers not to pass new sanctions legislation. New penalties from Congress would “put at risk the valuable international unity that has been so crucial,” Cameron warned at a joint press conference at the White House.
A great meeting with President Obama covering the economy, global security, cyber-terrorism and Iran. pic.twitter.com/Db6kMaN3SC— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) January 16, 2015
“If Iran proves unable to say yes [to a deal]… then we’re going to have to explore other options, and I would be the first to come to Congress and say we need to tighten the screws.”
President Obama and I believe more sanctions now on Iran would be counter-productive and would undermine valuable international unity.— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) January 16, 2015
On January 16, the State Department warned that dual-national Iranian-Americans “may encounter difficulty in departing Iran.” Tehran does not recognize their American citizenship. The new travel warning, an update to one issued in May 2014, still cautioned that U.S. citizens may be subject to “harassment or arrest while traveling or residing in Iran.” The following is an excerpt.
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of travel to Iran. Dual national Iranian-American citizens may encounter difficulty in departing Iran. U.S. citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and carefully consider nonessential travel. This Travel Warning updates the Travel Warning for Iran issued May 22, 2014.
A nuclear deal could generate new opportunities for cooperation between the United States and Iran, according to a new policy brief by the Center for a New American Security. “Thirty-five years of animosity between the United States and Iran will not simply melt away,” the report says. But “a deal that truly resolves the nuclear issue can be a foundation for progress.” The following are excerpts from the full policy brief.
To be sure, any thawing of the relationship would face tremendous challenges. The two countries have not had formal relations since 1979. In the decades since, successive U.S. administrations have designated Iran a state sponsor of terrorism, and imposed sanctions based on a range of Iran’s activities apart from its nuclear proliferation. Both sides harbor long lists of grievances. Iran resents American support for the Shah and for Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War. The United States remembers the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran and Iranian support for militants in Iraq. Resentments on both sides mean that powerful resistance in both political systems would oppose cooperation. Moreover, Israeli and Gulf partners, whose cooperation is vital for the achievement of other U.S. interests in the region, are likely to oppose any increase in U.S.-Iran cooperation.
Despite the challenges, however, there are a number of areas where Iranian interests align with those of the United States and its partners. Both have interests in maritime security and in the free flow of energy out of the Middle East. Both would prefer a stable Afghanistan with Taliban influence limited to the greatest extent possible. Both oppose the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and may be willing to work together against it.
Matthew M. Reed
In December, Rouhani presented a budget for 2015 based on an average oil price of $72 per barrel— down from about $100 per barrel in the 2014 budget. But oil has been trading below $50 and it may stay low. So the government has slashed the projected price again to $40 per barrel. Rouhani intends to reduce Iran’s dependence on oil from an average of 45 percent of all revenues to about 31.5 percent.
On January 14, Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held intensive meetings in Geneva on the eve of nuclear talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers—Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. The session was intended to “show the readiness of the two parties to move forward to speed up the [negotiations] process,” Zarif told reporters before meeting Kerry. “All issues are hard until we resolve them.”
Zarif and Kerry also held unscheduled late-night meeting.
On January 16, the two met again in Paris. The two had previously scheduled meetings with others, but they carved out time to meet again to continue closing gaps.
Photo credits: U.S. State Department via Flickr