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White House: U.N. Couldn't Undercut Congress to Make Iran Nuke Deal Legally Binding
The United Nations Security Council votes during a meeting on non-proliferation in North Korea on March 4, 2015 at the United Nations in New York. (AFP PHOTO/Don Emmert)

White House: U.N. Couldn't Undercut Congress to Make Iran Nuke Deal Legally Binding

The United Nations could not circumvent Congress on matters pertaining to an Iran deal, the White House said, after reports that other nations, including U.S. allies, were looking at lifting U.N. sanctions on Iran to preempt congressional action to undo a potential nuclear agreement.

“We have no intention of converting U.S. political commitments under a deal with Iran into legally binding obligations through a U.N. Security Council resolution,” White House National Security spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan told TheBlaze Friday.

AFP Photo/Don Emmert

Earlier this week, 47 Republican senators signed an open letter to the Iranian government warning that a deal reached under the Obama administration would not be legally binding under a future administration.

Reuters reported Thursday that there has been some discussion among top U.N. members about lifting U.N. sanctions on Iran in the event of a deal, therefore making it harder for Congress to take action to nullify any agreement. The nations negotiating the deal with Iran are the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — plus Germany.

That other countries would have talks with the U.N. shouldn’t be a surprise, Meehan said.

Meehan said she would expect the U.N. to endorse a deal reached with Iran, “but any such resolution would not change the nature of our commitments under such a deal, which would be wholly contained in the text of that deal.”

Both the U.S. and the European Union have cited the existing U.N. resolutions as a legal basis to impose strict sanctions on Iran’s regime. Reuters cited a “Western diplomat” who said a U.N. resolution could protect any nuclear deal against Republicans in Congress.

"There is an interesting question about whether, if the Security Council endorses the deal, that stops Congress undermining the deal," the diplomat told Reuters.

Meehan said that Congress will have a vote on lifting any U.S. sanctions but stressed the administration does not want to lift sanctions in the near term under a nuclear agreement with Iran.

“Initially, we will want to maintain the architecture of sanctions on Iran in order to retain the ability to quickly snap them back into place should Iran fail to comply with its commitments,” Meehan told TheBlaze. “However, once Iran has established confidence after complying with its commitments for a considerable period of time, Congress would be asked to vote to lift sanctions with the benefit of having assessed Iranian compliance with the deal.”

Reports emerged last month that the U.S. was seeking to freeze any nuclear development by Iran for 10 years, while still permitting it to enrich uranium, which critics say could still give it the capacity to produce a bomb. Iran has said its nuclear activity is for peaceful purposes.

Meehan added that U.S. would expect to retain many of the existing U.N. Security Council resolutions against Iran, but added any new resolution would not take U.S. commitments in the deal legally binding absent congressional approval.

“We have been and will continue to be extremely careful to avoid any such provisions in future UNSCRs," Meehan said.

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