US senators prepare legislation to pressure Iran

December 9, 2013 22:24
1 minute read.

WASHINGTON - Two US senators are preparing legislation to impose new sanctions on Iran in six months if an interim deal on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program goes nowhere, penalties that Iran's foreign minister has said would kill the agreement.

The Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez, and Republican Senator Mark Kirk are close to agreeing on legislation that would target Iran's remaining oil exports, foreign exchange reserves and strategic industries, aides said on Monday.

The legislation, which faces an uphill battle amid opposition from the White House, would seek to limit the ability of President Barack Obama's administration to waive sanctions on Iran. It would also reimpose sanctions if Tehran reneges on an interim deal struck last month.

A senior Republican Senate aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, called the legislation "an insurance policy to protect against Iranian deception."

The White House last week said it opposed an effort by some members of the Senate to impose new sanctions on Iran, even if they would not take effect for months.

On Monday, Ben Rhodes, a White House deputy national security adviser, said "sanctions during the course of negotiations would be seriously counterproductive," and could unravel the unity of the global powers that crafted the interim deal with Iran.

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