News / Middle East

    Kerry Calls on Lawmakers to Hold Off on New Iran Sanctions

    Kerry Urges Senate To Avoid New Sanctions While Iran Talks Continuei
    X
    November 14, 2013 1:04 AM
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is urging the Senate to hold off on passing additional sanctions on Iran, saying recent talks in Geneva came close to a landmark agreement on its contested nuclear program. But many lawmakers want to go ahead with tougher sanctions, saying that's what brought Tehran to the negotiating table. VOA Congressional Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from Capitol Hill.
    Related video report by VOA's Cindy Saine:
    VOA News
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is telling lawmakers to "calm down" and give negotiators a chance to resolve deep concerns over Iran's nuclear program diplomatically.

    Kerry briefed lawmakers with the Senate Banking Committee Wednesday in Washington, saying this is not the time to step up the pressure on Tehran.

    "We have all the opportunity of negotiations to make certain this is a peaceful program that can threaten nobody," he said. "And what we're asking everybody to do is to calm down, look hard at what can be achieved, what the realities are."
     
    Kerry's comments, made to reporters before the closed-door session, came as a number of lawmakers called for hitting Iran with new economic sanctions, saying Iran's reported concessions on uranium enrichment and inspections are not enough.

    Kerry said last week's talks in Geneva are just a start, and that there should be no rush to judgment.

    "We believe we have put ourselves into the strongest position to start [negotiations with Iran].  This is a first step, not a final agreement," he said.

    Iranian officials are asking for relief from economic sanctions that have devastated its economy while insisting Iran has a right to enrich uranium.   

    Senators like Republican Banking Committee member Bob Corker say, though, that so far the United States is not being firm enough.

    "All of us want to see this dealt with diplomatically.  A diplomatic solution is best," he said. "We also know that if you negotiate a weak solution it also leads you to a very terrible place with either Iran having a nuclear weapon or us being involved in military activity."

    Meanwhile, Republican Senator John McCain criticized the Obama administration's approach to the talks, saying it has hurt Washington's credibility.

    "This whole session of negotiating is a fiasco and allows the Iranians to continue to enrich," he said. "And thank God for the French and there's no possible way this proposal should meet any form of agreement."

    Democratic Senator Carl Levin disagreed, saying adding more sanctions now could backfire.

    "I support maintaining tight sanctions against Iran," he said. "I don't support increasing them at this time because I think it could interfere with the negotiations and, I think, it could lose some of the support we have for sanctions, particularly with China and Russia.,"

    At the White House Wednesday, spokesman Jay Carney said while strong sanctions had brought Iran to the negotiating table, it was now time to let diplomacy take over.

    "They [the Iranians] are engaging in serious negotiations about how they can, verifiably, comply with their international obligations in a way that allows the P5+1 and all of our allies and partners and every country in the region and the world to be confident that Iran cannot and will not obtain a nuclear weapon," he said. "That is the goal."

    But many lawmakers remain unconvinced.  At a hearing earlier Wednesday, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Republican Ed Royce questioned the benefits of a proposed deal.

    "There is growing concern in Congress that the outlines of this agreement do not meet the standards needed to protect the United States and to protect U.S. allies," he said.

    The committee's ranking Democrat, Eliot Engel, also warned that Iran needs to give more or risk facing new sanctions.

    "If these talks are about Iran abandoning its nuclear program, then to show good faith, at the very least while the talks are going on, Iran should stop enrichment, period," he said.

    Iran insists its nuclear program has always been designed for peaceful purposes and is seeking an easing of sanctions as part of any deal.  The State Department has warned enacting new sanctions at this stage would be a mistake, urging lawmakers to give diplomacy more time.

    Officials from both Iran and the P5+1 group, made up of the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany, have expressed optimism about their latest round of negotiations, despite failing so far to agree on a deal.  The talks will continue next week.

    Iran also has been negotiating with the United Nations' nuclear agency and recently signed an agreement that will allow expanded inspections of its nuclear sites.  The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says he sees "no radical change'' in Iran's nuclear program over the past three months.

    Yukiya Amano told Reuters Wednesday Tehran has continued its most sensitive nuclear activity, enrichment of uranium to 20 percent.  Iran says it needs the 20 percent material to fuel a medical research reactor.  Experts warn it puts Iran on the fast track to producing 90 percent enriched uranium required for making a nuclear warhead.

    You May Like

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora