WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama is urging Congress to resist new sanctions against Iran because current agreements have a good chance to rein in that country’s nuclear ambitions.
Obama told reporters Friday that Iran has agreed to actions that will let other nations determine whether it is trying to weaponize nuclear materials. Iran says the materials are for peaceful uses only.
The president said he would support tougher sanctions later if Iran violates the agreement.
He said it’s politically popular for some lawmakers to look tough against Iran. Obama urged Congress to hold off and give current diplomacy a chance to work.
Israel says the current agreements are too lenient with Iran.
White House Spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Thursday that if Iran sanctions legislation introduced earlier in the day were to pass Congressional hurdles, Obama would veto it. Speaking an hour after senators announced the bipartisan Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, Carney slammed the legislation, describing it as potentially “damaging and destructive to the diplomatic effort.”
Carney implied that lawmakers were out of step with American voters in proposing legislation that he said “will undermine our efforts to reach a diplomatic solution and greatly increase the chances for military action.”
“I think that there is overwhelming support in the country and in this congress for a diplomatic resolution to this conflict,” Carney said.
Characterizing the legislation as “unnecessary,” he said that “if it passed, the president would veto it.”
Carney said that he could not recall another instance in which the president would veto Democrat-sponsored legislation. The president, he added, has been “involved” in the effort to convince Democratic senators not to introduce the bill, and senior White House officials have made personal calls to leading senators in recent days – but to no avail.
Democratic senators, meanwhile, moved to push through the bill as early as next month, Reuters reported. According to Senate aides who spoke to the news agency, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid began a process which would allow lawmakers to vote on the proposed legislation as early as January. Reid reportedly filed Rule 14, which allows him to circumvent the normal process and expedite voting on the draft law.