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White House: No New Sanctions, Even if They Are Delayed

White House: Passing new sanctions on Iran, even with a delayed launch date, would give Iran an excuse to undermine the interim deal.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 12/4/2013, 3:13 AM

White House
White House
Flash 90

U.S. senators are adamant on passing new sanctions on Iran, despite a deal it signed with the West last week, but the Obama administration is just as adamant to stop them.

The White House warned Congress Tuesday that passing new sanctions, even with a delayed launch date, would give Iran an excuse to undermine the interim nuclear deal reached in Geneva.

AFP quoted White House spokesman Jay Carney as having warned a bipartisan coalition of senators who are suspicions of the deal reached and want to pile up more punishments for Tehran, that their move would be seen as a show of "bad faith" by U.S. partners abroad.

"Passing any new sanctions right now will undermine our efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution to this issue by giving the Iranians an excuse to push the terms of the agreement on their side," Carney said.

"Furthermore, new sanctions are unnecessary right now because our core sanctions architecture remains in place, and the Iranians continue to be under extraordinary pressure,” he warned.

"If we pass sanctions now, even with the deferred trigger, which has been discussed, the Iranians and likely our international partners will see us as having negotiated in bad faith."

Carney argued that the passage of new U.S. sanctions - even with a built-in six month delay as senators have suggested - would threaten the unity of the international coalition that has leveled punishing sanctions on Tehran.

He also said if the interim deal is not translated into a final pact that Iran abides by, the White House would support new sanctions against Iran.

Soon after the deal was signed on November 23, a group of 15 senators had already declared they would push for more sanctions on Iran. On Sunday, The Washington Post reported that the senators were working hard on formulating the sanctions legislation so that it passes even before Congress breaks at the end of December.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), one of the leading proponents of new sanctions, told The Washington Post that he would be willing to sign new legislation now but delay implementation for the six-month period of the interim deal.

Under the deal reached between world powers and Tehran to freeze Iran's nuclear program last month, Washington committed to "refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions" for the six months during which world powers will seek to hammer out a comprehensive settlement.

The Obama administration has been pushing the senators to hold off on passing any new sanctions, sending  top officials such as Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry to convince them not to follow through with the legislation.

Obama recently told lawmakers that Iran would make progress in its ability to build a nuclear weapon if there is no diplomatic deal to halt or roll back its nuclear program.

He has also issued a public warning to Congress, saying that a deal in the works could prevent the "unintended consequences" of war.

Carney would not say on Tuesday whether Obama would use his presidential veto to halt any congressional effort to impose new sanctions.