U.S. President Barack Obama is appealing directly to lawmakers to delay any new sanctions against Iran while international negotiations aimed at curbing the country's nuclear program continue.
Mr. Obama is hosting a meeting Tuesday morning at the White House with the leaders of the Senate's committees on banking, foreign relations, armed services and intelligence.
He is giving an update on the talks in Geneva between Iran and six world powers, which are due to resume Wednesday, and continue his administration's push to allow that diplomacy to take its course.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday there is "no question" the impact of existing sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table, and asked for time to see what the negotiations achieve.
"Factually, we are closer than we have been in years to coming to an agreement with the Iranians through the 5+1 process. So no, one wants to see this move to the alternative, which is a path to aggression, a path to potential conflict, even a path to war. And we want diplomacy to be given the chance to breathe, to be given the opportunity to succeed."
Some lawmakers have called for imposing new sanctions on Iran, saying such measures will help force Tehran to give up its nuclear program.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in a YouTube video released Tuesday that Iran's nuclear energy program is "not about joining a club or threatening others," but "securing our children's future, diversifying our economy, stopping the burning of our oil."
He said the issue is one of freedom and respect, adding that Iranians would not back down when told they "cannot do what others are doing."
As if to support his point, Iranian state television said Tuesday that hundreds of university students formed a human chain at an underground uranium enrichment facility to support their country's disputed nuclear program.
The six world powers -- the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany -- want Iran to curb its enrichment activity, while Iran is seeking relief from sanctions that have hurt its economy.