News / USA

Support Slipping for Iran Sanctions in US Senate

FILE - A general view of the Arak nuclear power plant, 190 km southwest of Tehran, Jan. 15, 2011.
FILE - A general view of the Arak nuclear power plant, 190 km southwest of Tehran, Jan. 15, 2011.
Michael Bowman
More Democratic senators are quietly signaling their opposition to a bill that spells out new sanctions against Iran if negotiations to limit the country’s nuclear program do not yield a final accord. 

The bill retains bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, but passage is seen as increasingly unlikely in the Democratic-led Senate amid an intense lobbying effort by the Obama administration to hold off on sanctions while international negotiations proceed.  

Senators Patty Murray and Elizabeth Warren are the latest Democrats to announce their opposition to the Iran sanctions bill currently before Congress. 

In a letter to constituents in Washington state, Murray said “the administration should be given time to negotiate a strong verifiable comprehensive agreement” on Iran’s nuclear program.  At the same time, she pledged to work “to swiftly enact sanctions” if the talks ultimately fail.

Similarly, a spokeswoman for Warren says the Massachusetts senator “does not support imposing additional sanctions through new legislation while diplomatic efforts to achieve a long-term agreement are ongoing.”

The sanctions bill has 16 Democratic co-sponsors, near-unanimous support among Republicans, and the backing of politically potent pro-Israeli U.S. lobbying groups.  But 11 Senate committee chairs, including Murray, currently oppose the bill. 

Among Democrats who signed on to the measure late last year, some have grown less vocal in their defense and promotion of the measure in recent weeks.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has neither explicitly promised a vote on the bill, nor ruled it out.

Congressional expert William Galston of the Brookings Institution says pressure from President Barack Obama appears to be swaying a growing number of Democratic lawmakers.

“The White House is determined to prevent this from happening," he said. "The administration believes in the marrow of its bones that the executive branch is the lead negotiator in the matter and that it deserves a chance to conduct its own foreign policy."

Iran says any new sanctions would violate last year’s interim nuclear accord and spell the end of negotiations.

The White House has promised a presidential veto of any sanctions Congress may pass before negotiations run their course. 

Polls show the American people wary of Iran’s nuclear intentions but in no way eager for war, giving the administration what Galston calls “cards to play” with Congress while it pursues a high-risk, high reward diplomatic initiative.  He adds, however, that bipartisan backing for sanctions will be overwhelming if negotiations with Iran fail.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid