State Department: New Iran sanctions violate deal, will be vetoed

With talks set to resume this week, Republican-controlled Congress eyes bill that would trigger new sanctions on Iran should talks fail.

January 14, 2015 01:20
1 minute read.
President Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama acknowledges applause before he delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 28, 2014.. (photo credit: OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO / PETE SOUZA)

WASHINGTON -- Any bill from Congress regarding new, nuclear-related sanctions on Iran during international talks over its nuclear program will be vetoed by US President Barack Obama, the State Department said on Tuesday.

Talks resume between Iran, the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany in Geneva this week. The parties seek to forge a political framework agreement ending global concerns over the nature of Iran's program by the end of March.

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But in Congress, now under full Republican control, leadership plans on introducing a bill this week that would "trigger" new sanctions on Iran should talks ultimately fail, or should Tehran violate terms of an interim deal that laid the groundwork for negotiations, formally known as the Joint Plan of Action.

"Even with a trigger, if there's a bill that's signed into law, and it is US law, in our mind it is a violation of the Joint Plan of Action— which, as we've said, could encourage Iran to violate it," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Tuesday.

"A sanctions bill, trigger or not, that is passed and signed into law by the president, which we've said we will not do... would be a violation of the JPOA," she continued. If a deal does not come to pass, Harf said, "we could put initial sanctions on Iran in 24 hours."

Obama briefed Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu by phone on Monday on "recent developments" in the negotiations. Diplomats at the table have given themselves until June to reach a final, comprehensive agreement.

Speaking ahead of the Geneva round, a source in the Prime Minister's Office said that Israel believes pressure on Iran should remain, and even be beefed up "until we see Iran dismantle the military elements" of its nuclear program.

The issue of the negotiations is one that comes up in every high-level discussion between Israeli and US officials, he said. Israel has been critical of the US position in negotiations from the start, calling for an increase in pressure.

"Sanctions alone do not stop Iran's nuclear program. It was through negotiations that we got to the Joint Plan of Action," Harf added.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report from Jerusalem.

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