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U.S. State Department Undersecretary for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman, refused to set a strict deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran during a testimony to the Senate, ABC news reports.
Sherman angered senators by saying that if any more sanctions were lifted, they would be consulted, but the State Department would not necessarily ask for their approval.
She said, “"The next four months will allow us to determine whether a diplomatic solution is possible,” before adding "A comprehensive resolution, if we are able to arrive at one, will benefit people everywhere.
It will ease anxiety and enhance security throughout the Middle East. It will reduce the likelihood of a nuclear arms race in the region. It will eliminate the potential threat of nuclear blackmail. It will contribute to the security of Israel, the Gulf states and our partners throughout the region."
But her refusal to say when the administration plans to come up with a deal is what led many congressmen, Democrats and Republicans alike, to be concerned about the ongoing negotiations.
Top Republican on the committee, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, said that Sherman’s pledge was of “zero commitment” while Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said “this entire thing is a disaster.”
Meanwhile Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey expressed his skepticism of the Iranian regime, "I’ve been skeptical of the Iranians' sincerity from Day 1 and I cannot say that I am any less skeptical today.”
In response, Sherman said "We wouldn't have agreed to an extension if we did not have an honest expectation that we have a credible path forward," she said. "We still have work to do. We still have time to determine whether we can close the gap between what Iran has said it intends and what it is willing to do."
Despite Sherman’s insistence that the administration would not necessarily seek congressional approval for the dropping of sanctions, if a final deal with Iran is reached, the administration would in fact have to rely on congressional approval of any deal.
Negotiations with the Iranian regime were recently extended for 4 months up to 24 November. The agreement of this extension also resulted in the Iranian regime receiving $2.8 billion from world powers for cooperating with negotiations.
The overall interim goal reached in November of last year intends to provide the regime with a total of $7 billion in economic relief for cooperation with negotiations and steps being taken to dismantle its nuclear program.
Iran News in Brief - 28 February 2015