Senators Defy Obama And Introduce A New Iran Sanctions Bill

Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on Thursday introduced new legislation that proposes new conditional sanctions on Iran, openly defying White House wishes to not introduce new sanctions while negotiations over Iran’s nuclear energy program are ongoing.

The bill, called the “Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act,” has 26 co-sponsors — a good mix of Republicans and Democrats.

The legislation proposes sanctions in the event that Iran breaches the terms of the interim agreement reached last month in Geneva — or if world powers fail to come to a comprehensive agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear energy program.

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif told Time magazine in a recent interview that any new sanctions, even ones that take effect after interim agreement expires, would kill any chance of a more comprehensive deal.

“Current sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table and a credible threat of future sanctions will require Iran to cooperate and act in good faith at the negotiating table,” said Menendez, who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“The Iranians last week blamed the Administration for enforcing sanctions; now, they criticise Congress. The burden rests with Iran to negotiate in good faith and verifiably terminate its nuclear weapons program. Prospective sanctions will influence Iran’s calculus and accelerate that process toward achieving a meaningful diplomatic resolution.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney blasted the bill on Thursday.

“We made it very clear to the Senate that it is not the time for new Iran sanctions. We don’t think it will be or should be enacted,” Carney told reporters.

Here’s the list of co-sponsors of the legislation: Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Mark Pryor (D-Ala.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), and Roy Blunt (R-Mis.).

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