News / Middle East

    Lew: Iran Economy Remains Distressed Amid Sanctions

    FILE - US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
    FILE - US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
    Reuters
    U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Iran's economy remained in a state of distress due to sanctions over its nuclear program and that the United States would not rush into making a bad deal to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
     
    Lew said that the temporary and reversible sanctions relief has been limited.
     
    “Iran is losing a significant amount in oil sales alone from the sanctions that remain in place, more than the value of the temporary relief,” Lew said in a speech in Jerusalem to the U.S.-Israel Joint Economic Development Group on Wednesday.
     
    “As we approach the last month of the agreed upon period for negotiations, Iran's economy remains in a state of distress that brought the government to the negotiating table in the first place,” he said.
     
    Such sustained pressure gives the United States the opportunity to pursue a negotiated agreement with Iran, in conjunction with its P5+1 partners, that will assure the international community that Iran's nuclear program is entirely peaceful, Lew said.
     
    “We will take the time to do this right, and we will not rush into a bad deal,” he said. “No deal is better than a bad deal.”
     
    Iran and six world powers re-launched talks on Tuesday to try to salvage a deal on its nuclear activity by a July deadline, striving to prevent a long-time standoff from descending into a wider Middle East war.
     
    Israel has been concerned that the powers have not done enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
     
    Israel also has voiced concern about the prospect of its closest ally, the United States, cooperating with what it considers its deadliest foe, Iran, to stave off a sectarian break-up of Iraq.
     
    Lew said the United States was concerned about the “grave situation” in Iraq.
     
    “As the president makes a decision on next steps, let me be clear that this is not primarily a military challenge,” he said, noting the United States has steadily increased security assistance to the Iraqi government over the past year,” he said.
     
    “While it is evident that Iraq needs significantly more help to break the momentum of extremist groups and bolster the capabilities of Iraqi security forces, there is no military solution that will solve Iraq's problems,” he continued.
     
    Any action the United States takes would have to be done in conjunction with a serious and sincere effort by Iraqi leaders to govern in a non-sectarian manner, promote stability and unity among a diverse population, build and invest in the capacity of security forces, and address the legitimate grievances of Sunni, Kurd, and Shia communities, Lew said.
     
    Lew also expressed optimism about the U.S. economic recovery, which is in its fifth year.
     
    “After a harsh winter that restrained growth in the first quarter, we are still expecting the underlying strength of the economy that was evident last year to result in a strong second half of this year, and economic data over the past three months supports that optimism,” he said.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora