US senators introduce Iran sanctions bill

Updated: 2013-12-20 09:48


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WASHINGTON - Some US senators introduced a bill on Thursday that would impose further sanctions on Iran if Tehran fails to comply with an interim deal reached with the world powers last month.

In response, the White House deemed the move "unnecessary" and threatened to veto the bill if it were enacted.

"We don't think it will be enacted. If it were enacted, the president would veto it," White House spokesman Jay Carney said at a daily press briefing.

The prospective sanctions, which are sponsored by 26 senators including chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez, would require the US, among others, to apply additional penalties to parts of Iran's economy including its construction, engineering and mining sectors.

"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 a statement. "Prospective sanctions will influence Iran's calculus and accelerate that process toward achieving a meaningful diplomatic resolution."

He said the bill would give the Obama administration up to one year "to pursue a diplomatic track resulting in the complete and verifiable termination of Iran's illicit nuclear weapons program," and require that any final deal with Iran end its ability to enrich uranium.

Carney said it is "entirely unnecessary to potentially disrupt or derail diplomacy" because if Iran does not comply with the preliminary agreement or fails to reach a more comprehensive agreement over the course of six months, "we are very confident that we can work with Congress to very quickly pass new, effective sanctions against Iran."

Iran has warned that passing new sanctions would ruin ongoing talks regarding its nuclear program. On November 24, the P5+1 countries, namely the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany, reached an agreement with Iran in Geneva that limits Tehran's nuclear activities in return for eased sanctions by the world powers.

It is not clear if or when the bill could see a vote on the Senate floor. The Obama administration has repeatedly warned against such a bill and Tim Johnson, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, decided to hold off imposing new sanctions on Iran last week.