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.
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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid