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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.