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White House fighting back against anti-Iran groups: Analyst

US President Barack Obama in the White House Situation Room

The White House’s decision not to send its top leadership to the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC shows it is fighting back against the people who are attempting to undermine Iran nuclear talks, a writer and political commentator in New York says.

US President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry have decided to boycott next week’s annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Instead, the White House is sending US envoy to the UN Samantha Power and National Security Adviser Susan Rice to speak at AIPAC.

“The background to this move is that John Boehner, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, has invited Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, to speak in Congress without Barack Obama’s approval, without his consent,” Jason Hirthler said.

“And I think it was a very political move, because Boehner is trying to undermine the White House’s effort to conclude negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program,” he said in a phone interview with Press TV on Friday.

Iran and the P5+1 group of  states – the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia, and Germany –  are holding negotiations to narrow remaining differences ahead of a July 1 deadline for the final agreement.

The scale of Iran’s uranium enrichment and the timetable for the lifting of anti-Iran sanctions are seen as major sticking points in the talks.

The Republican-dominated Congress is pushing a new round of sanctions on Iran, which could be part of its agenda in the coming weeks.

US Senators Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez last month introduced a bill that would trigger additional sanctions against Iran if the ongoing nuclear negotiations collapse.

Obama has vowed to veto the final Kirk-Menendez bill if it is put on his desk after passing both houses of Congress.

Commenting to Press TV, Hirthler said, “As everyone knows the leading advocate of harsh sanctions and actions against Iran is Benjamin Netanyahu, so to bring him to Congress to talk, no doubt, about the supposed nuclear threat Iran poses and to argue more sanctions against Iran while the US is trying to conclude this negotiation is simply to undermine the negotiation, which is what Boehner would like to do.”

“There’s a radical rightwing element in this country that sees Obama as insufficiently hostile toward Iran. And I think this announcement yesterday [shows that] the White House [is] …fighting back making a political move of their own because they don’t want to have these talks undermined,” he noted.

“Clearly, more sanctions or even a threat of more sanctions is detrimental to this negotiation, which is very delicate, between the United States and Iran,” he concluded.

Senior Obama administration officials as well as top Democratic lawmakers are planning to boycott the March 3 joint session of Congress where Netanyahu is scheduled to speak about Iran.


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