Senators Introduce Bipartisan Iran-Sanctions Bill

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), shown in September, on Thursday joined 23 other senators in introducing legislation that would threaten new sanctions against Iran.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
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Diane Barnes
Dec. 19, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

U.S. sen­at­ors on Thursday in­tro­duced a bill threat­en­ing new sanc­tions on Ir­an, des­pite White House warn­ings that the le­gis­la­tion could dis­rupt nuc­le­ar talks.

The meas­ure al­lows for a 180-day sus­pen­sion of sanc­tions to fa­cil­it­ate dip­lomacy, plus ad­di­tion­al time if the White House judges a fi­nal deal to be im­min­ent. The le­gis­la­tion also in­cludes a “sense of Con­gress” that the “gov­ern­ment of Ir­an does not have an ab­so­lute or in­her­ent right to en­rich­ment and re­pro­cessing cap­ab­il­it­ies and tech­no­lo­gies,” des­pite Tehran’s past state­ments that it does main­tain such a right un­der the Nuc­le­ar Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty

Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee Chair­man Robert Men­en­dez (D-N.J.), who sponsored the Nuc­le­ar Weapon-Free Ir­an Act with 23 of his col­leagues, ar­gued that the meas­ure would raise pres­sure on Ir­an to fully re­lin­quish atom­ic activ­it­ies that could sup­port a fu­ture ca­pa­city to pro­duce nuc­le­ar weapons.

Ir­an in­sists that its nuc­le­ar pro­gram is peace­ful, and has warned that any new sanc­tions would threaten an ini­tial mul­ti­lat­er­al agree­ment reached last month on the na­tion’s atom­ic ef­forts. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion hopes the Novem­ber deal will help ne­go­ti­at­ors ham­mer out longer-term re­stric­tions on the dis­puted Ir­a­ni­an nuc­le­ar activ­it­ies.

“Cur­rent sanc­tions brought Ir­an to the ne­go­ti­at­ing table and a cred­ible threat of fu­ture sanc­tions will re­quire Ir­an to co­oper­ate and act in good faith at the ne­go­ti­at­ing table,” Men­en­dez said in re­leased re­marks. “[Ad­di­tion­al] sanc­tions will in­flu­ence Ir­an’s cal­cu­lus and ac­cel­er­ate that pro­cess to­ward achiev­ing a mean­ing­ful dip­lo­mat­ic res­ol­u­tion.”

White House spokes­man Jay Car­ney on Tues­day cau­tioned law­makers against tak­ing any im­me­di­ate ac­tion to pass new sanc­tions le­gis­la­tion.

“If they were to im­pose or pass new sanc­tions now,” the move could “po­ten­tially scuttle the ini­tial pre­lim­in­ary agree­ment,” Car­ney said.

This art­icle was pub­lished in Glob­al Se­cur­ity News­wire, which is pro­duced in­de­pend­ently by Na­tion­al Journ­al Group un­der con­tract with the Nuc­le­ar Threat Ini­ti­at­ive. NTI is a non­profit, non­par­tis­an group work­ing to re­duce glob­al threats from nuc­le­ar, bio­lo­gic­al, and chem­ic­al weapons.

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