July 23, 2014 / 10:58 PM / 5 years ago

U.S. Republican lawmakers seek greater say on Iran nuclear deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Republican lawmakers introduced legislation on Wednesday that would force President Barack Obama to submit quickly to Congress any comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran and give lawmakers the chance to reject the deal and reimpose sanctions.

An Iranian flag flutters in front of the United Nations headquarters in Vienna June 17, 2014. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

The five senators introduced their bill just five days after Iran and six world powers announced they had failed to meet a deadline to end a decade-old dispute over Iran’s nuclear program and agreed to extend an interim agreement for four months, including some further sanctions relief for Tehran.

News of the extension was greeted with anger by many U.S. lawmakers, particularly Republicans worried that Tehran has not been negotiating in good faith. They also fear that Democratic President Obama will concede too much to Iran in order to claim a foreign policy victory.

“Congress must weigh in on any final deal, ensure Iranian compliance is strictly enforced and provide a backstop to prevent a bad deal from occurring,” said Senator Bob Corker, one of the bill’s co-sponsors and the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“While this bill does not include new sanctions on Iran, it allows Congress to seek further sanctions if an acceptable final deal can’t be reached,” the Tennessee lawmaker said in a statement.

The measure is unlikely to come to a vote in the Senate, where Obama’s fellow Democrats who control a majority of the seats have said it would be inappropriate to pass legislation that would risk disrupting the Iran talks while they continue.

However, it was a clear indication of wariness from the Republicans, who many analysts say stand a good chance of taking control of the Senate in early November elections.

The measure would give Obama three days after conclusion of a final agreement with Iran to submit the deal to Congress. Lawmakers would then have 15 days to review it and hold hearings, and then another 15 days to introduce a “resolution of disapproval,” which, if passed, would re-impose any sanctions on Iran that had been lifted.

The bill also would require the U.S. director of National Intelligence to inform Congress within 10 days of learning that Iran was not living up to its obligations under its nuclear agreements or failing to cooperate with international nuclear inspectors.

And it would bar further extensions of the interim agreement, instead requiring a reversal of all sanctions relief on Nov. 28, four days after the current extension period runs out, if there is not a final deal.

The bill’s other sponsors are South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, John McCain of Arizona and James Risch of Idaho. All except Graham are members of the foreign relations panel.

(This story was corrected in final sentence to reflect that Lindsey Graham is not a member of Senate Foreign Relations Committee)

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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