President Barack Obama’s victory in getting Congress to hold off on imposing new sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program
may be fleeting.
Senators Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois, are considering proposing legislation to impose new sanctions on Iran, The Wall Street Journal reports
Those sanctions would fall outside the interim, six-month window for negotiations set in the agreement struck in Geneva last month between Iran and the P5+1 powers— Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — that negotiated it.
“I have been a proponent of pursuing additional sanctions prospectively ... but I'm beginning to think based upon on all of this that maybe what the Senate needs to do is to define the end game, or at least what it finds as acceptable as the final status,” Menendez said. “Because I'm getting nervous about what I perceive will be acceptable to [the administration] as a final status ... versus what the Congress might view as acceptable.”
The administration has been treading lightly since the announcement of the interim deal, arguing that taking more immediate action could be counterproductive and kill chances for future negotiations. Under the agreement, Tehran agreed to limit uranium enrichment in exchange for the easing of international sanctions for six months.
Iran Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi has stated any new sanctions would be interpreted as the end of the interim agreement.
The White House is lauding itself after the Senate Banking Committee agreed to “a pause” to let the administration pursue a comprehensive deal with Iran and the House called off a vote on a non-binding resolution for new sanctions.
Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat, conceded that taking action during “delicate negotiations” with Iran could eliminate the possibility of a long-term deal and “shatter Western unity on this issue.” The Senate Banking Committee oversees sanctions legislation in the Senate.
"We should make sure that if the talks fail, it was Iran that caused their failure,” he said, Reuters reports
. “We should not give Iran, the P5+1 countries or other nations a pretext to lay responsibility for their collapse on us."
To appease critics who accuse the Obama administration of being too soft on the notoriously nefarious Iran, the White House has blacklisted companies and individuals from Singapore to Ukraine for allegedly helping Tehran evade international sanctions on its oil trade, according to the Journal.
The Iranian foreign minister says that by doing so, the United States has acted “against the spirit of the Geneva deal,” The Jerusalem Post reports
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