Nuclear negotiations with Iran have been extended for four months on the recommendations of Obama administration officials engaged in the negotiations. Wendy R. Sherman, the undersecretary of state for policy and the lead American negotiator with Iran, recommended the extension based on the progress of the negotiations so far. Ms. Sherman also recommended modest additional sanctions relief. Sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe thus far have reportedly reduced Iran’s economy by 25 percent.
At two congressional hearings, members of both parties insisted that any final agreement with Iran’s government be put to a vote. Congressional members expressed a number of desires for the negotiations, including an agreement on limits to Iran’s missile capability and reassurances from Iran that it would stop providing rockets and funding to Hamas in Palestine. They also want to ensure that the agreement is in effect for a long period of time, preferably a decade.
In response to American officials’ insistence that any nuclear agreement with Iran must have an extremely long duration, Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif proposed a halt to Iran’s production capability for a period of three to seven years. After that term, Iran would be allowed to resume production unconstrained to build an industrial-scale nuclear infrastructure as large as it likes. Any agreement made with Iran will have time limits, after which Iran will be pretty much free to do as it likes.
The inaction in Congress on a range of issues have led the Obama administration to attempt to bypass congressional approval on certain matters. Like the administration of George W. Bush before him, President Obama and his administration’s officials have repeatedly insisted that the president is allowed to take action to manage foreign affairs with minimal congressional consultation or oversight. This could include suspending or waiving some sanctions against Iran using an executive order.