Thursday Dec 12, 201303:07 AM GMT
Senate hawks pushing for anti-Iran sanctions bill
Hawkish senators in US Congress are pushing for a new anti-Iran sanctions bill while the Obama administration has urged US lawmakers to hold off on passing new sanctions against Iran.

A Senate aide has told the Washington Post that senators Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) are proposing new anti-Iran sanctions legislation.

According to the aide, the proposal seeks to impose new sanctions on Iran after the six-month period over which an interim nuclear deal between Iran and the five permanent of the UN Security Council plus Germany expires.

Nevertheless, the proposal would give the administration of US President Barack Obama two 30-day periods after the six-month period in case the White House wants more time for a final agreement between Iran and the P5+1 to be reached.

Even then, Obama will be given additional 30-day periods to suspend sanctions against Iran.

The Washington Post broke the story after US Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday before the House Foreign Relations Committee that the interim nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 “unequivocally” served US interests.

“We're asking you to give our negotiators and our experts the time and space to negotiate,” Kerry told US lawmakers.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister and top nuclear negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif warned on Saturday that the interim deal over Iran’s nuclear energy program “is dead” if US Congress passes new sanctions against Tehran.

As hawkish senators are pushing for new anti-Iran sanctions, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota), said on Tuesday that he is inclined to hold off on an anti-Iran sanctions vote.

“I'm inclined to support [Secretary of State] John Kerry,” Johnson told The Hill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) had temporarily deferred the decision on a vote to the Banking Committee so that a bill would have to originate in the Committee before being considered on the full Senate floor.

Nevertheless, with the Banking Committee unlikely to hold a vote and hawkish senators pushing for a vote, Reid has to decide whether the anti-Iran bill proposed by Menendez and Kirk gets a full vote.

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