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US options for sanctions relief on Iran

According to a top expert on US sanctions against Iran, President Barack Obama can provide significant relief by waiving many penalties and allowing a major piece of sanctions legislation to “sunset” before he leaves office.
EDITORS' NOTE:  Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on their ability to film or take pictures in Tehran.

The SPQ1 gas platform is seen on the southern edge of Iran's South Pars gas field in the Gulf, off Assalouyeh, 1,000 km (621 miles) south of Tehran, January 26, 2011. Picture taken January 26.  REUTERS/Caren Firouz (IRAN - Tags: BUSINESS ENERGY) - RTXX59M
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As nuclear negotiations resume June 16 in Vienna, a new paper by a veteran US Iran expert and congressional analyst lays out options for unwinding US sanctions that include initial waivers by President Barack Obama and the 2016 expiration of a key piece of legislation that has impeded foreign investment in Iran’s energy sector.

According to the paper, written by Kenneth Katzman and slated to be presented at an Atlantic Council event along with a companion report on lifting European sanctions, the Obama administration “might decide to allow the Iran Sanctions Act to sunset” when it expires on Dec. 31, 2016, shortly before Obama leaves office. Expiration of the act “would reopen Iran’s energy sector to unimpeded foreign investment and would enable Iran to begin expanding oil and gas production again after many years of stagnation,” notes Katzman, writing in his personal capacity and not on behalf of his employer, the Congressional Research Service. He adds that Congress could vote to extend the act, as it has repeatedly done since the law was first passed in 1996, but the president could exercise his veto authority.

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