Senators Split on Push for New Iran Sanctions

Some Jewish Heavyweights Back White House — Others Balk

By Reuters

Published December 19, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Despite opposition from the Obama administration, 26 U.S. senators introduced legislation on Thursday to impose new sanctions on Iran if the country breaks an interim deal under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program.

It will be weeks at the earliest before the bill comes to a vote in the 100-member Senate, if it gets that far, given staunch opposition by President Barack Obama’s administration and many of its supporters in Congress.

Democrats Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Charles Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, and Republican Senator Mark Kirk, along with 23 others, introduced the bill intended to choke off funding to Iran’s nuclear program by cutting off its oil sales.

The 13 Democrats and 13 Republicans introduced the “Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act” despite the Obama administration’s insistence that passing such a measure would disrupt delicate negotiations between Tehran and world powers over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also has said a new sanctions law would kill the interim agreement reached in Geneva on Nov. 24 between Iran and the “P5+1” powers. In that agreement, Tehran agreed to limit uranium enrichment in return for an easing of international sanctions.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said after the bill was introduced that it would disrupt diplomacy, noting Washington could quickly impose more sanctions if negotiations fail.

A group of 10 powerful Democratic senators, all leaders of Senate committees, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expressing opposition to any plans to introduce new sanctions, and asking the Nevada Democrat to consult them before any moves to allow a vote on such legislation.

Among the Democrats signing the letter were Tim Johnson, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over sanctions legislation, and Dianne Feinstein, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

The new bill would require reductions in Iran’s petroleum production and apply new penalties to Iran’s engineering, mining and construction industries if Iran violated the interim agreement or if negotiators failed to reach a final comprehensive agreement.

But it also gives the administration up to a year to pursue a diplomatic track resulting in the “complete and verifiable termination” of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the group of senators said as they announced the legislation.

“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,” Menendez said in a statement.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.