US Lawmakers “Seeking to Block Iran’s WTO Bid”

A group of US congressmen is pressing the White House to oppose Iran’s bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), citing concern that admission could constrain US ability to impose future sanctions on Iran.

The pressure from the bipartisan group of House lawmakers illustrates the political crosscurrents the Obama administration faces after reaching a landmark nuclear accord with Iran and five other world powers last year. Iran signaled it wanted to move toward joining the trade body after completion of the nuclear deal.

In a letter sent Thursday, GOP Reps. Peter Roskam of Illinois and Dave Reichert of Washington and Democratic Reps. Juan Vargas of California and Grace Meng of New York urged US Trade Representative Michael Froman to resist Iran’s efforts to join the international group, the Wall Street Journal reported.

… Iranian accession to the WTO could seriously complicate our ability to combat Iran’s support for terrorism, human rights violations, ballistic missile program and other illicit activity,” the lawmakers wrote.

All four lawmakers opposed the deal Iran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany) finalized in July 2015.

Under terms of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the US committed to freeing as much as $100 billion in Iranian oil money frozen in overseas accounts as Iran takes steps to roll back key parts of its nuclear program.

The lawmakers said in Thursday’s letter that they worried that the WTO rules could limit sanctions the US might want to levy on Iran.

A senior administration official said the White House wasn’t currently working to help Iran gain entrance into the world trade body.

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