Obama Could Ease Iran Sanctions— Without Congress

White House points to president's power to 'suspend' them in event of a deal
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2014 10:10 AM CDT
Obama Could Ease Iran Sanctions— Without Congress
President Obama speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House on Nov. 23, 2013, about the nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Iran may be open to a nuclear deal in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions, and President Obama, the Treasury Department says, has the power to take action himself. According to a White House study, Obama doesn't need congressional approval to "suspend" most of the sanctions on Iran—which is handy when the administration believes Congress would vote down a plan to do so, the New York Times reports. But "the lifting of sanctions will only come when the [International Atomic Energy Agency] verifies that Iran has met serious and substantive benchmarks," says a rep for the National Security Council.

As it stands, the IAEA can't "provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran," says the agency's head, as per the Jerusalem Post. A permanent lifting of the sanctions would require Congress' input, but "we wouldn't seek congressional legislation in any comprehensive agreement for years," a top Obama adviser says. Both Democratic and Republican congressional leaders say lawmakers won't simply let the issue slide. Meanwhile, time is running short: Sen. Robert Menendez, the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is backing legislation that would tighten sanctions barring an agreement by Nov. 24. (More Iran stories.)

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