Senate Eyes More Iran Sanctions, As White House Asks For Time

The White House says the bill that opens the door to more sanctions could prompt Iran to leave negotiations

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Senators from both sides are drafting legislation for harsher economic sanctions if Iran doesn’t make good on its promise to curtail its nuclear program even as the White House protests, saying it threatens a permanent deal.

Congress has largely been skeptical of the interim agreement reached over the weekend among world powers, and Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez and Republican Sen. Mark Kirk are writing a bill that would require the White House to confirm every 30 days that Iran is holding up its end of the bargain, the Associated Press reports. Otherwise, the revives the $1 billion-a-month in sanctions that has crippled Iran’s economy, and adds others on top of that.

President Barack Obama has asked lawmakers for more time, concerned that the pressure from Congress will alienate the Iranians and frustrate partners cooperating in the negotiations. The interim deal provides for no new sanctions while it’s in effect.

The bill, which has drawn support from the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is expected to be ready for a vote when the Senate returns from Thanksgiving recess on Dec. 9.