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On Iran P5+1, Could A Deal Be Undermined Like IMF Reform in US Senate?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 21 -- With foreign ministers flying in and out of Vienna for the Iran P5+1 talks ahead of the November 24 deadline, one has to wonder: even if an agreement is reached, would US Congress action on sanctions undermine or unravel it?

  To Inner City Press, which also covers the International Monetary Fund, it is analogous to "IMF quota reform," something that the Obama administration agreed to but which has yet to be implemented due to lack of US Senate approval.

  Back in March the Obama administration tried to use the situation in Ukraine and Crimea to strong-arm the Senate into approving IMF reform. That didn't work, and it's dubious that things would be easier in the case of Iran.

  While the type of up-front UN Senate approval needed for IMF quota reform may not be required in the case of the Iran nuclear talks, there are several things Congress could do, particularly with the changes coming in on January 1. We'll have more on this. For now, the US State Department on November 21 says:

"Secretary of State John Kerry will travel from Vienna, Austria, to Paris, France, this evening for consultations with his European counterparts about the ongoing Iranian nuclear negotiations. He will also stay in close touch with his inter-agency colleagues in Washington. His future travel schedule is still being finalized, and we have not yet determined when he will return to Vienna."

Back on October 27 when the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed held a press conference at the UN, Inner City Press asked him for an update on what he had said about the effect of sanctions and banning of Iran from the SWIFT payments system which Inner City Press asked him about one year and three days earlier, 2013 here from Minute 12:29.

  On October 24, 2013, Shaheed had acknowledged that the banning of Iran from the SWIFT payments system had had an impact. On October 27, 2014, Shaheed said he believes Iran is still banned from SWIFT, but he had no update. Instead he said that humanitarian exemptions to sanctions are having successes. 2014 video here.

 But banning from SWIFT or "de-SWIFT-ing" is not a targeted sanction at all, and he did not mention any exemptions to it.

   Overall, Inner City Press asked Shaheed what impact he thought "the nuclear issue" and the P5 + 1 talks have on human rights in Iran.  Shaheed said he doesn't like linkage, but added that when there's focus on the nuclear issue, it takes away from the focus on human rights. 

  Last year Inner City Press obtained and exclusively published an internal OHCHR plan to take over the "rule of law" functions of the rest of the UN system, and the staffing of the Special Representatives on Children and Armed Conflict, Sexual Violence and Conflict, R2P and the Prevention of Genocide.What has happened on that? Are rapporteurs, like sanctions monitors, still not given any training or orientation by the UN?

Footnote: on October 27, the UN Correspondents Association which so often demands the first question be set-aside for it didn't even send anyone to Shaheed's press conference. One attendee said, it's defUNCA-ed, as in defunct, or de-UNCA-ed, like de-SWIFT-ed. The new Free UN Coalition for Access, present, did not try to brand the press conference, because there was no need. Watch this site.


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