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Congress

Previous Iran Sanctions Cosponsor Won't Back New Sanctions Now

Sen. Martin Heinrich (left), a New Mexico Democrat, wants to let international negotiations play out before Congress considers sanctions, a position that mirrors that of the White House.(Chet Susslin)

photo of Elahe Izadi
January 16, 2014

Another Democratic senator has come out publicly against a proposed set of new sanctions against Iran. This time, it's Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.

Heinrich, who cosponsored sanctions legislation in the past, won't sign on to an Iranian sanctions bill by Sens. Robert Menendez and Mark Kirk, according to his office. Like the White House, Heinrich wants to hold off on new sanctions while international negotiators work toward a comprehensive agreement with Iran over its nuclear program.

"The U.S. intelligence community has made clear that 'new sanctions would undermine the prospects for a successful comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.' I remain firmly committed to ensuring that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon and to exhausting every option before resorting to military force," Heinrich said in a statement. "The interim agreement made on Nov. 24, 2013 is such an option."

 

The sanctions legislation has 59 cosponsors, including 16 Democratic backers. Kirk, an Illinois Republican, has said he believes there are more than 70 votes for the legislation, if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid brings it to the floor for a vote. The White House has issued a veto threat. This week, other previously mum Democrats, such as Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, have publicly backed the White House position.

Heinrich said that, despite the interim deal with Iran, which begins next week and starts a six-month clock toward a final deal, "Iran must show that it is serious and that it will abide by the commitments made to the international community. Should it violate the terms of the agreement, I stand ready to support the sanctions outlined" in the pending sanctions bill.

In 2011, Iranian-sanctions legislation passed the Senate 100-0.

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