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360 lawmakers write letter to Obama on Iran

US President Barack Obama (File photo)

A bipartisan group of 360 US lawmakers has signed a letter warning President Barack Obama that any sanctions relief on Iran as part of an emerging nuclear deal would require new legislation from Congress.

The letter, signed by a majority of Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives, will be sent to the US president on Thursday, said one of the signatories, according to congressional newspaper The Hill.

"There really cannot be any marginalization of Congress. Congress really needs to play a very active and vital role in this whole process, and any attempts to sidestep Congress will be resisted," Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) said Thursday morning at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.

"We would hope that we could get a prompt response from the White House. It's truly a very bipartisan letter expressing Congress' strong feelings about things that need to be in the agreement," he said.

The missive followed a similar one signed by 47 Republican senators on March 9 warning Iran’s leaders that any nuclear deal might be revoked by the next US president.

It comes as negotiators from Iran and the P5+1- the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany – have reported progress ahead of a July 1 deadline for a comprehensive agreement over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

"Should an agreement with Iran be reached, permanent sanctions relief from congressionally-mandated sanctions would require new legislation," the letter says.

The House letter stipulates that Congress must review any deal reached with Iran to ensure that its terms “foreclose any pathway” to a nuclear bomb.

“And only then will Congress be able to consider permanent sanctions relief," it adds.

Some members of Congress are skeptical about the Obama administration’s efforts in the nuclear talks with Iran, accusing the Islamic Republic of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear activities.

The letter does not mention legislation introduced in the Senate that would require Congress 60 days to review a final deal before its implementation.

However, it says, the House is “prepared to evaluate any agreement to determine its long-term impact on the United States and our allies."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress earlier this month warning US lawmakers that the White House was negotiating “a very bad deal” with Tehran.


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