WASHINGTON Jan 27 An attempt to impose new
sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program has stalled in the
U.S. Congress and lawmakers are discussing whether to introduce
a much weaker measure, congressional aides said on Monday.
Members of the Senate and House of Representatives are
considering a non-binding resolution that expresses concern
about Iran's nuclear ambitions and calls for negotiators to set
strict conditions in talks between Tehran and world powers.
That would fall short of tightening sanctions on Iran, as
envisioned in a bill that senators have been discussing for
"We don't think it is going to come to a vote," said a
Senate aide who requested anonymity because that person was not
authorized to speak to the media. "There are discussions about a
Iran has warned that it will walk away from talks on its
nuclear program - raising the risk of conflict in the Middle
East - if Congress passes a new sanctions bill.
Senate Democrats met recently and agreed not to push
Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring the sanctions bill to the
floor of the chamber, congressional aides said.
President Barack Obama's administration strongly opposed the
sanctions bill, and threatened to veto it. The bill was
co-sponsored by 59 of the 100 senators, including 16 of Obama's
Sources familiar with the Obama administration's thinking
said the White House would object to a non-binding resolution at
this stage in the delicate talks with Iran.
After reaching an interim deal last November, Iran and six
world powers will likely hold the first round of talks on a
long-term deal for Tehran next month at the United Nations in
Tehran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful.
With no sign of movement on the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act
of 2013 sanctions bill in the Senate, congressional hard-liners
on Iran are shifting focus to the final, long-term agreement.
They want negotiators to demand the strictest restrictions
possible, including insisting Iran give up all uranium
enrichment, and dismantle - not just suspend - facilities
including the Arak heavy water reactor, which could provide
plutonium, an alternative to uranium for bombs.
"Here's the end game for me: I want the plutonium reactor
dismantled, not frozen in place. I want the enrichment
capabilities of the Iranians to be zero," Republican Senator
Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told reporters recently.
"I want this administration to know that the Congress
believes in dismantling, removing and stopping (Iran's nuclear
program) and ... I think this administration has a completely
different view of the endgame than I do," he said.
(Editing by Alistair Bell and Amanda Kwan)