Vice President Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday urged increasingly skittish senators to postpone new sanctions on Iran.
Senate Banking Committee, which is weighing new sanctions on the Iranian energy sector. “If sanctions were to be increased, there are members of [the international] coalition who have put [sanctions] in place who would think we’re dealing in bad faith, and they would bolt.”Kerry made the comments as lawmakers in both parties are balking at the administration’s offer during recent talks in Geneva to loosen sanctions on Iran.
Critics say the deal would have given Iran more than the international community stood to receive in return. Senator Bob Corker said he was “very disappointed” with the closed-door briefing he received from Kerry on Wednesday.“It was solely an emotional appeal,” Corker said, adding that “generally speaking” Kerry and others told lawmakers to trust them. “I am stunned that in a classified setting, when you are trying to talk to the very folks that would be originating legislation relative to sanctions, there would be such a lack of specificity.” The Banking panel was briefed by Kerry and Undersecretary of State for political affairs Wendy Sherman, the lead negotiator with Iran
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), the co-author of sanctions legislation that cleared the Senate unanimously two years ago, said the administration has “very low credibility” with lawmakers. He said Israeli sources told him the interim deal on the table last week, which Iran ended up rejecting, would only have delayed its nuclear program by 24 days in exchange for about $20 billion in sanctions relief.
Kirk also expressed outrage that administration officials had dismissed Israeli estimates about the limited impact on Iran’s nuclear program.“Today is the day in which I witnessed the future of nuclear war in the Middle East,” he said. “The best way to prevent that from happening is to continue sanctions.”He predicted 90 percent of senators would vote for new sanctions if given the chance.
The administration is also taking a drubbing in the House, which voted 400-20 back in July for sanctions similar to the ones now under consideration in the Senate.
Separately, four House members — Reps. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) and Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) — are circulating a letter urging Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring up sanctions legislation.
“The possibility of tighter sanctions will enhance our leverage in the nuclear standoff between the Iran’s Supreme Leader and the international community.” Rep. Ted Deutch (Fla.), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs panel on the Middle East, “I urge our Senate colleagues to continue to advance on sanctions legislation, because the crushing economic sanctions are forcing the Iranians to the negotiating table.”
Sources—julain pecquet, Jeremy herb, the hill