Senators looking to keep applying sanctions pressure to Iran
posted at 8:41 pm on October 17, 2013 by Erika Johnsen
Ahead of the diplomatic discussions scheduled for this week in Switzerland, the Obama administration dropped a not-so-subtle hint that they would much rather Congress back off on sticking Iran with any more economic sanctions for the time being. The idea, it appeared, was to try to establish a more friendly and inviting negotiating climate in which Iran might feel more inclined to make concessions — but after years of trying to walk the diplomatic high road without success, a bipartisan group of senators is more disposed to keep applying steady pressure rather than giving Iran a break. The talks on Tuesday and Wednesday seem to have gone reasonably smoothly, but with more talks scheduled for November, the Senate is looking to forge ahead. Via the AP:
Demands in Congress grew Wednesday for a speedy escalation of sanctions against Iran as two days of nuclear talks ended in Geneva, setting up a potential foreign policy clash with the Obama administration while it seeks a diplomatic end to the standoff with Tehran.
Even as negotiations between world powers and Iran ended on an upbeat note, with a new round of discussions set for November, lawmakers seeking to end a government shutdown back in Washington quickly expressed their skepticism and laid out red lines for the talks. …
“Given Iran’s continued refusal to halt its illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs, the Senate should immediately move forward with a new round of economic sanctions targeting all remaining Iranian government revenue and reserves,” said Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, who has played a leading role in drafting sanctions. …
“No one should be impressed by what Iran appears to have brought to the table in Geneva,” Rubio said. “Tehran has broken its word far too many times to be trusted. Due to its complete disregard for previous international agreements, we must take a firm stand in all negotiations regarding the nuclear capabilities Iran is permitted to retain.”
The Senate Banking Committee is reportedly planning on drafting new sanctions in short order in the same vein as a bill passed by the House over the summer that would blacklist Iran’s mining and construction sectors and seek to end their worldwide oil sales (the Iranian regime’s largest source of revenue) by 2015. The Obama administration has said that they will support new sanctions if Iran doesn’t come up with and present a bona fide plan to scale back their nuke program, but less clear is their timeline and, ahem, “red line” for evaluating any progress that Iran might offer. In the meantime, Israel is not convinced, via the NYT:
Israel said on Tuesday that it would “embrace a genuine diplomatic solution” that would bring about the dismantling of Iran’s potential nuclear weapons program but warned world powers against any partial agreement and urged them not to ease the sanctions on Iran prematurely.
As nuclear talks began in Geneva, Israel’s security cabinet issued a detailed statement laying out its case for bringing Iran’s uranium enrichment to an end and saying, “Sanctions must not be eased when they are so close to achieving their intended purpose.” …
“Israel does not oppose Iran having a peaceful nuclear energy program,” the statement said. “But as has been demonstrated in many countries, from Canada to Indonesia, peaceful programs do not require uranium enrichment or plutonium production. Iran’s nuclear weapons program does.”