News / USA

US Officials Defend Iran Nuclear Talks Before Skeptical Lawmakers

US Officials Defend Iran Nuclear Talks Before Skeptical Lawmakersi
X
February 04, 2014 11:03 PM
Tensions between lawmakers and the Obama administration surfaced at a U.S. Senate hearing Tuesday on the negotiations aimed at limiting Iran's nuclear program. VOA's Michael Bowman reports U.S. officials sought to assure a skeptical Senate Foreign Relations Committee that diplomacy can succeed, and that Iran will be amply punished if it fails.
Michael Bowman
A U.S. Senate hearing has further exposed tensions between lawmakers and the Obama administration about international negotiations to limit Iran’s nuclear program.  U.S. officials sought to reassure skeptical legislators of both parties that diplomacy can succeed, and that Iran will be amply punished if it fails.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez wanted to know if a final accord with Iran would freeze its ability to make a nuclear weapon or eliminate it entirely.

“A final agreement that mothballs [halts] Iran’s [nuclear] infrastructure, but preserves their ability to easily break out [become a nuclear-armed nation] is not a final agreement I can support,” he said.

Menendez has crafted a bill spelling out additional sanctions against Iran if talks break down.  The measure has put him in conflict with fellow-Democrat President Barack Obama, who has pledged to veto any measure that could torpedo negotiations.  Menendez feared Iran would wriggle free of sanctions while retaining its nuclear weapons capacity.

“We need to guard against wanting a deal so much that we concede more than we gain.  At the end of the day, Iran can no longer be a nuclear weapons-threshold state,” he said.

Other senators were more blunt.  Republican James Risch called the interim nuclear agreement a “disaster” and said he was “disgusted” by limited sanctions relief for Iran.

“You have got business people flooding in there, ready to do business [with Iran], going back to business as usual with the Iranians," he said. "Whose job is it going to be to put the genie back in the bottle [restart sanctions] when this thing [diplomacy] fails?”

Appearing before the committee, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman stressed that no final accord would be soft on Tehran.

“We remain in control over whether to accept the terms of a final deal or not," she said. "We have made it clear to Iran that if it fails to live up to its commitments, or if we are unable to reach agreement on a comprehensive solution, we would ask Congress to ramp up new sanctions immediately.”

Several senators expressed concern if the time it took to enact new sanctions Iran could accelerate its nuclear program.  U.S. Treasury Under Secretary David Cohen responded that the economic relief Tehran currently enjoys was small and reversible.

“If Iran fails to meet its commitments under the joint plan, we can revoke this limited sanctions relief and, at a minimum, reinstate the suspended sanctions,” he said.

Not all senators are equally pessimistic about diplomacy with Iran.  Democratic Senator Tim Kaine said he was prepared to vote for military action, if needed, to keep Iran nuclear weapons free.  But he argued for a good-faith pursuit of diplomacy before drastic measures are contemplated.

You May Like

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid