Obama: Now Isn't the Time for New Sanctions

Now would not be the right time for Congress to impose new sanctions on Iran, says Obama, days before nuclear deal to be implemented.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/14/2014, 1:15 AM

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama said on Monday that now would not be the right time for Congress to impose new sanctions on Iran.

Obama made the remarks to reporters while meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

He said that the nuclear agreement reached with Iran in Geneva and which will be implemented as of next week "allows us to have the time and space" to negotiate a longer term deal.

Obama’s comments come as a bill being drafted by Congress that would slap new sanctions on Iran continues to gain steam.

As of Friday, 59 senators were backing the new bill, just one short of the number of votes it would need to pass.

The bill requires further reductions in Iran's oil exports and would apply new penalties on other industries if Iran either violates the interim agreement or fails to reach a final comprehensive deal.

Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it makes it out of Congress, part of an aggressive campaign he has been waging to convince senators not to pass new sanctions on Iran at this time.

He 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. In another instance, he claimed that passing new sanctions on Iran would “lead to war.”

On Sunday, Obama confirmed that the agreement reached with Iran in Geneva in November would be implemented starting January 20. 

A senior American official later revealed that as part of this implementation, Iran will receive the first $550 million installment of a total of $4.2 billion in previously blocked overseas funds on or about February 1.