Iran Nuclear NewsU.s. Treasury secretary reassures Israel on Iran sanctions 

U.s. Treasury secretary reassures Israel on Iran sanctions 

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Wall Street Journal: U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew on his first official visit to Israel this week discussed bilateral economic trade between the allies, while heaping praise on Israel’s economy. But he also touched upon a point of contention between the two countries: nuclear negotiations with Iran and sanctions relief.

The Wall Street Journal

By Joshua Mitnick

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew on his first official visit to Israel this week discussed bilateral economic trade between the allies, while heaping praise on Israel’s economy. But he also touched upon a point of contention between the two countries: nuclear negotiations with Iran and sanctions relief.

As part of an effort to negotiate an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, the U.S. and world powers agreed to a partial easing of harsh economic sanctions on Iran’s economy as a goodwill gesture to encourage the diplomatic process. Deeply sceptical of the negotiations effort, Israel has argued that relaxation would prompt a total collapse of the sanctions regime on Iran.

But speaking in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Secretary Lew said that is not the case at all.

“Iran sanctions are the toughest the world community has imposed on any country and its economy is suffering a serious blow as a result – an impact that is not being reversed,” Mr. Lew said. “As we approach the last month of the agreed upon period for negotiations, Iran’s economy remains in a state of distress.”

The Treasury Secretary also said that the ongoing damage from sanctions over the last six months has been greater than economic relief from the easing, which Mr. Lew described as “extremely limited.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies had argued that sanctions relief would remove the pressure on Iran to seek diplomatic compromise on its nuclear program. In February, he said that the sanctions relief had backfired by encouraging Tehran to behave more aggressively. Earlier this year, pro-Israeli lobbyists and Congress members failed in an attempt to pass legislation calling for more sanctions.

When asked to respond on the Treasury Secretary’s remarks in Jerusalem about the limited impact of sanctions relief for Iran, a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister declined to comment.

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