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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid