White House Threatens to Veto Anti-Iran Bill

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The White House warned Congress on Thursday that President Barack Obama would veto a bipartisan Senate bill that aims to slap Tehran with new sanctions, saying such measures undermine diplomatic efforts to resolve the long-standing dispute over Iran's nuclear program.

White House Threatens to Veto Anti-Iran Bill

President Barack Obama would veto a bipartisan Senate bill that proposes to impose tougher sanctions on Iran if it violates an interim deal over its nuclear program reached last month, White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Thursday.

“We don’t think this action is necessary, we don’t think it will be enacted. If it were enacted, the president would veto it,” Carney said of the Iran sanctions bill sponsored by a group of senators.

He said the Senate bill would "greatly increase the chances that the United States would have to take military action" against Iran. He said it would also be bad for attempts at negotiating with Iran and defy the will of the nation and the Congress.

“Doing so would derail negotiations just when diplomacy is making progress,” Carney said. “It would potentially divide the international community and obviously would suggest bad faith on the part of the United States.”

“I think that there is overwhelming support in the country and in the Congress for a diplomatic solution to this conflict,” Carney added.

While describing "diplomatic resolution" as the "preferable choice" for peacefully resolving the nuclear dispute with Iran, Carney once again added that the White House leaves  'all options for resolving it on the table, including the use of military force."

The new sanctions bill seeks to enforce a total embargo on Iran's oil exports over the next two years and to choke off Tehran's ability to access any of its revenue held in foreign bank accounts. It also aims to curtail Iran's ability to gain revenue from economic sectors so far not significantly hit by sanctions, such as the mining, engineering and real estate industries.

The Senate bill comes a week after the US Treasury Department on December 12 slapped sanctions against more than a dozen companies and individuals for evading US sanctions against Iran. The blacklisting is widely seen as an attempt to head off moves in Congress to impose tougher sanctions that would be in clear breach of the Geneva agreement.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has described further sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran over its nuclear energy program as “counterproductive”.

Speaking at his annual news conference in Moscow on Thursday, the Russian president said the latest US sanctions against Iranian companies and individuals will adversely affect the recent deal struck between Iran and the six world powers in Geneva.

As part of November 24 accord, Iran accepted to suspend parts of its nuclear program for six months and allow for more inspections of its nuclear facilities in exchange for modest sanctions relief and a promise by western powers not to impose new nuclear-related sanctions.

During this confidence-building period, which has not yet begun, Iran and world powers aim to hammer out a long-term comprehensive accord to decisively end the standoff over Iran's nuclear program, which has been a further bone of contention betwen Iran and the West.

Following the latest blacklisting, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif described the latest US sanctions as “extremely counterproductive” and against the “very aim of the negotiations,” but said Tehran is committed to reaching a final comprehensive agreement with the world powers over its nuclear energy program.

“We are committed to ensuring that the process that we started … will lead to a satisfactory conclusion that would address the requirements as stated in the agreement,” Zarif said in an interview with The Washington Post on Sunday.

He had earlier warned that the recent nuclear deal between Iran and six major world powers would be “dead” if the US imposed further sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

“The entire deal is dead. We do not like to negotiate under duress. And if Congress adopts sanctions, it shows lack of seriousness and lack of a desire to achieve a resolution on the part of the United States,” Zarif said.

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