Legislation introduced in the Senate,
supported as of Thursday by 26 Democratic
and Republican senators, directly defies
appeals from President Obama.
Called the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of
2013, the measure would expand restrictions
on Iran's energy sector. It also states that the
United States should provide military,
diplomatic and economic support to Israel if
the Jewish state takes military action against
President Obama says U.S. lawmakers must
allow the United States and other permanent
members of the United Nations Security
Council, plus Germany, to continue testing
Iran's commitment to a diplomatic solution.
Iran and the P5+1 nations resumed expert-
level talks in Geneva Thursday on the deal that
requires Tehran to curb its nuclear program
in return for some limited relief from
The Senate legislation is not likely to come to
a vote until some time in January. And
lawmakers will no doubt come under even
more pressure from the administration to
drop the effort.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said
President Obama would veto any bill
containing new sanctions, which the interim
nuclear agreement with Iran has said would
not be imposed.
"We don't believe this proposal is necessary,
as I think we have made clear, and we have
been discussing with members of Congress for
quite some time. We don't believe it will be
enacted; we certainly know it's not necessary.
If it were to pass, the president would veto
it," Carney said.
The U.S. Treasury Department announced new
enforcement actions against additional Iranian
companies and individuals based on existing
sanctions, a step that led Iran to temporarily
Carney said the White House has been in
"regular and very direct" conversations with
lawmakers, and reiterated that Congress could
act quickly if Iran fails to comply. New
sanctions, he said, could derail negotiations
and suggest "bad faith" on the part of the
Two Republicans who have signed on to the
legislation — John McCain and Lindsey Graham
— spoke in the Senate Thursday about the
need to maintain pressure on Iran.
McCain said it would be appropriate for
Congress to make clear to the Obama
administration and to Iran's leadership that
the "screws are going to tighten."
"Shouldn't there be some sanctions that would
kick in after a six-month period which then
the Iranians would know that if they don't
reach an agreement then the sanctions would
be more severe?" McCain asked.
White House spokesman Carney also
responded to a question about remarks by
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
regarding efforts to reach a comprehensive
nuclear deal with Iran, and the U.S. missile
shield in Europe.
Speaking in Poland, where interceptors for the
missile shield are to be deployed by 2018,
Lavrov said successful implementation of the
Geneva agreement would remove the cause
for the U.S. missile shield.
Carney said the U.S. position has not
changed, noting that an interim deal with Iran
is "not a comprehensive agreement and not a
resolution to the international community's
concerns about Iran's nuclear program."