A senior U.S. lawmaker says Congress will not vote on new economic sanctions against Iran while international negotiations aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear program continue.
U.S. Senator Bob Corker spoke Tuesday, shortly after a White House meeting with key Senate leaders. In that meeting, President Barack Obama asked that any new sanctions be delayed while nuclear talks set to resume Wednesday continue in Geneva.
Corker did not offer details of the meeting, and did not say how long a delay the president requested. But he said no new sanctions amendments to the annual congressional defense bill will be considered before the end of the month .
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday repeated warnings that the Islamic Republic will not back down from what Iran argues is its absolute right to enrich uranium. But, he said Tehran will no longer insist that Western powers publicly acknowledge that right as a precondition for further nuclear talks.
Some Western analysts are calling the Iranian statement a significant concession aimed at showing Tehran's commitment to resolving the decade-long dispute over its nuclear ambitions.
But U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jan Psaki stopped short of calling the Iranian words a concession. She said she did not have enough information to evaluate the foreign minister's statement, which appeared Tuesday in a video posted on YouTube.
In the Geneva talks, six world powers - the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany - are pressing Iran to curb its uranium enrichment activities. Iran, in turn, is negotiating to gain relief from tough international economic sanctions that have hurt its economy.