News / Middle East

Kerry Fails to Convince Key Senators to Forgo New Iran Sanctions

Secretary of State John Kerry walks to a closed-door briefing with Senators on the recent agreement reached between Iran and western powers on Iran's nuclear program, Dec. 11, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Secretary of State John Kerry walks to a closed-door briefing with Senators on the recent agreement reached between Iran and western powers on Iran's nuclear program, Dec. 11, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
TEXT SIZE - +
Michael Bowman
— A direct appeal by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has not convinced skeptical senators to forgo a push to boost sanctions against Iran. Kerry appears to have changed few if any minds when he told U.S. lawmakers that further sanctions would torpedo delicate international negotiations to limit Tehran's nuclear program.

Secretary Kerry met with a large contingent of senators of both parties behind closed doors at the Capitol. Emerging an hour later, several lawmakers said they heard the same arguments against new sanctions that Kerry has been making in public in recent days.  

Republican Senator John McCain was unimpressed.

“I was not only not persuaded, [but] many of the statements the secretary of state made as facts I know are factually false, because I just came back from the region," said McCain.

McCain did not elaborate, but he did predict a Senate bill will be unveiled soon to tighten sanctions against Iran in the event nuclear negotiations fail.

“I and many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle are still committed, to passing legislation that would call for, at the expiration of six months if there is no final agreement, increased sanctions on Iran,' he said.

Echoing the call was fellow-Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

“Giving the administration a six-month period to negotiate an acceptable deal makes sense to me, but having sanctions hanging over the head of the Iranians if the deal is not acceptable also makes sense to me," said Graham.

Iran has said that further sanctions would violate the interim nuclear agreement and scuttle talks.

Tuesday, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee announced a hold on new sanctions, for now. But, after meeting with Secretary Kerry, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez, declined to comment on what might emerge from other quarters in the Senate. Menendez is one several Democrats who has argued that the threat of further sanctions would strengthen America’s hand in future negotiations with Tehran.

Not all lawmakers agree. Democrat Jay Rockefeller took to the Senate floor to urge restraint. The senator said sabotaging negotiations is foolhardy, given that the alternative to a negotiated settlement to Iran’s nuclear program is, in his words, “acts of war.”

“If Iran reneges or plays games, there is no question in anybody’s mind in the Senate that we will pass new sanctions the very moment that the need arises. But we do not have to do that now. In fact, it is a terrible mistake to do that now," said Rockefeller.

Even the most ardent backers of new sanctions admit that time is short to pass a measure before the end of the year. But Senator Graham expressed hope for expedited consideration of a bill that could come up for a vote, possibly in January. Even if Congress passed such a bill, it would face a near-certain veto by President Barack Obama.

Asked if the Senate is more or less likely to act after Secretary Kerry’s closed-door appeal, Democrat Chris Coons would only say, “It is in the hands of other members now”.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid