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Obama Threatens Veto as Senators Promote New Iran Sanctions

White House threatened to use its veto power against legislation that would impose new sanctions on Iran.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 12/20/2013, 2:16 AM

Barack Obama
Barack Obama
AFP photo

The White House on Thursday threatened to use its veto power against legislation that would impose new sanctions on Iran, as senators continued to promote such legislation in defiance of President Barack Obama.

The threat came hours after a bipartisan group of senators filed a new Iran sanctions measure, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), would impose tougher sanctions on Tehran if it refuses to dismantle its contested nuclear program after the end of a six-month negotiating period.

The bill would give the White House up to a year to negotiate with Iran before tighter sanctions take effect.

The regulations would take effect sooner if Iran reneges on any aspect of the interim nuclear deal, launches a ballistic missile, or plans a terror attack against the United States, according to reports and sources familiar with the legislation, reported the Free Beacon.

The bill has already garnered support from a quarter of the Senate and could come to a vote next month.

In response, White House press secretary Jay Carney said President Obama would veto the bill.

“Passing new sanctions legislation now will undermine our efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution,” Carney declared, according to the Free Beacon.

The latest measure comes just a week after the White House was able to kill another motion for new sanctions on the Islamic Republic, when the Senate Banking Committee announced it will hold off on passing a new Iran sanctions bill.

The committee’s chairman, Senator Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), said he made his decision after hearing from President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

“The President and Secretary Kerry have made a strong case for a pause in Congressional action on new Iran sanctions, so I am inclined to support their request and hold off on Committee action for now,” said Johnson.

The Obama administration, for its part, has waged an aggressive campaign to convince lawmakers to postpone passing new sanctions on Iran.

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.

House lawmakers admitted last week that new sanctions were “all but dead in the water” and expressed anger at their Senate counterparts for failing to pass the new sanctions legislation.