Obama to Congress: You Want War? Then Toughen the Sanctions
U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday issued a direct warning to Congress against further sanctions on Iran.
According to AFP, Obama said that a deal in the works could prevent the "unintended consequences" of war.
The comments came as the UN nuclear watchdog said that Iran has not expanded its nuclear facilities in the past three months in a possible confidence-building measure by the new government.
Obama appeared to make his most explicit suggestion yet that military action, if diplomacy fails, would have dangerous effects and only fuel an Iranian desire for nuclear weapons.
"What we have done is seen the possibility of an agreement in which Iran would halt advances on its program," Obama was quoted as having told a news conference.
"We can buy some additional months in terms of their breakout capacity. Let's test how willing they are to actually resolve this diplomatically and peacefully," he added, according to AFP.
The president noted that his intention "always was to bring the Iranians to the table so we could resolve this issue peacefully."
"No matter how good our military is, military options are always messy, are always difficult, always have unintended consequences, and in this situation are never complete in terms of making us certain that they don't then go out and pursue even more vigorously nuclear weapons in the future," he declared.
"If we're serious about pursuing diplomacy, there's no need for us to add new sanctions on top of the sanctions that are already very effective and that brought them to the table in the first place," Obama said.
The comments came as another report indicated that Obama has been easing sanctions on Iran for the past five months without Congressional approval.
Sources in Congress revealed that Obama's administration has been suspending or lifting many sanctions without informing Congress since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was elected in June, reports the World Tribune.
Over the past few weeks, the administration has been placing heavy pressure on Congress not to slap new sanctions on Iran.
Several weeks ago, a group of Senators from both parties called on Iran to end all its uranium enrichment activity and pushed for a speedy escalation of sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The Senate Banking panel has been considering whether to act on legislation hitting Iran’s oil industry. The House overwhelmingly passed such legislation in July, but the White House has been urging Senate Democrats to hold off while multilateral talks on Iran’s nuclear program continue.
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry briefed members of the Banking Committee and told them that any new sanctions would risk ruining talks over Tehran's nuclear program.
Kerry also reportedly told the senators they should ignore anything Israel says about the Iranian nuclear issue.
U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Wednesday that the deal being offered to Iran would involve six months of halting progress on Iran’s nuclear program and beginning to roll it back, while the U.S. would offer “limited, temporary and reversible economic relief” that leaves the “architecture of sanctions wholly in place.”