Senators Skeptical of White House Call to Delay New Iran Sanctions

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Nov. 1, 2013, 12:02 p.m.

Key U.S. sen­at­ors are res­ist­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s calls for delay­ing le­gis­la­tion that would ex­pand eco­nom­ic sanc­tions against Ir­an while in­ter­na­tion­al talks are un­der way to dif­fuse ten­sions sur­round­ing the Middle East­ern na­tion’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg.

Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee Chair­man Robert Men­en­dez (D-N.J.) said he still sup­ports pro­ceed­ing with an Ir­an sanc­tions bill even after meet­ing on Thursday with Vice Pres­id­ent Joe Biden, Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry and Treas­ury Sec­ret­ary Jack Lew.

“I’d have to hear something far more sub­stant­ive from what I heard today to dis­suade me” from act­ing on le­gis­la­tion, Men­en­dez told re­port­ers, ac­cord­ing to the wire ser­vice.

The Re­pub­lic­an-led House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives passed le­gis­la­tion in Ju­ly that would broaden eco­nom­ic con­straints, and the Sen­ate Bank­ing Com­mit­tee has been ex­pec­ted to present a sim­il­ar bill that would black­list Ir­an’s min­ing and con­struc­tion sec­tors. Yet Obama, hope­ful that the on­go­ing dip­lo­mat­ic talks with Ir­an will prove suc­cess­ful, has dis­patched seni­or of­fi­cials to Cap­it­ol Hill to seek a delay in any move to add sanc­tions.

Sen­at­or Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on Thursday said he did not ex­pect any pos­it­ive out­come of talks sched­uled for next week in Geneva between Ir­an and the so-called “P-5+1” — United States, Bri­tain, France, China, Rus­sia and Ger­many.

“Sanc­tions are the only way to pre­vent a war,” Kirk re­portedly said.

Oth­er sen­at­ors, in­clud­ing Ma­jor­ity Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), were more open to hold­ing off on new sanc­tions.

“I think after 10 years of bit­ter con­front­a­tion, sanc­tions and all of the in­flamed rhet­or­ic, that it makes sense for us to be thought­ful on how and when we re­spond to the Ir­a­ni­ans,” Durbin said, ac­cord­ing to Agence France-Presse.

Biden on Fri­day de­fen­ded the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­sire for delay­ing the le­gis­la­tion on Fri­day.

“No one is sug­gest­ing an open-ended delay for new sanc­tions, and there may come a point where ad­di­tion­al sanc­tions are ne­ces­sary,” the vice pres­id­ent’s of­fice said in a state­ment, ac­cord­ing to AFP.

“At the same time, it is im­port­ant for Con­gress to re­serve its abil­ity to le­gis­late for the mo­ment when it’s most ef­fect­ive in or­der to give the cur­rent P5+1 ne­go­ti­ations the best chance to make real pro­gress in achiev­ing our shared goal of pre­vent­ing Ir­an from ob­tain­ing a nuc­le­ar weapon,” Biden’s of­fice said.

On Thursday tech­nic­al ex­perts from Ir­an and the P-5+1 na­tions com­pleted two days of talks in ad­vance of the high-pro­file gath­er­ing of seni­or dip­lo­mats from the coun­tries in Geneva on Nov. 7 and 8.

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