In a closed-door meeting at the
In exchange for taking some steps to suspend its nuclear program, Carney said, Iran would be given "limited, temporary and reversible" relief from some sanctions under a proposal by the so-called P5-plus-1: the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia – and Germany. The measures reportedly include giving Iran access to billions of dollars' worth of capital frozen in foreign banks under Western sanctions.
The six-month deal also would allow for more international inspections of Iranian nuclear sites, which the White House says would offer "unprecedented transparency" in a program that many countries fear is intended to develop a nuclear weapon.
With the negotiators believed to be nearing a preliminary deal, pro-Israeli groups have mounted a fierce lobbying campaign against lifting any sanctions, saying it would threaten Israel's security. Lawmakers in both parties have also expressed skepticism of the diplomatic track, with some saying it amounts to appeasement.
After the meeting, Sen.
"People are concerned that we're giving up some leverage" by offering Iran even temporary relief from the sanctions, Corker said.
But the Tennessee Republican ruled out the possibility that the Senate would vote on legislation strengthening sanctions before Monday, the start of a weeklong Thanksgiving recess. That buys the administration breathing room to pursue a deal in Geneva in talks due to start Wesnesday.
The White House meeting included Secretary of State
The Obama administration says it has imposed the stiffest economic penalties ever on Iran but believes that tightening sanctions now would destroy a chance for a diplomatic settlement with Iran’s new president,
Obama's position is "that new sanctions should not be enacted during the current negotiations, but that they would be most effective as a robust response should Iran not accept the P5-plus-1 proposal or should Iran fail to follow through on its commitments," Carney said.
In a letter released Tuesday, senior lawmakers of both parties warned Kerry against pursuing a deal that would give Iran relief from sanctions without demanding that it roll back – not merely freeze – some aspects of its nuclear program.
“We are concerned that the interim agreement would require us to make significant concessions before we see Iran demonstrably commit to moving away from developing a nuclear weapons capability,” said the letter, which was signed by Sens.
Speaking after the meeting, Obama offered no guarantees on the success of the talks in Geneva but said the proposal backed by his administration would leave in place the toughest sanctions on Iran, including those affecting the country's oil and financial sectors.
“What we are suggesting, both to the Israelis, to members of
“I think that is a test that is worth conducting."