Sat Jan 24, 2015 6:2AM
The White House has once again reiterated its opposition to the joint efforts made by the Republican-controlled Congress and the Israeli premier to push for more sanctions against Iran.
Hawkish Senators Robert Menendez and Mark Kirk are working on a bipartisan bill that would impose additional sanctions on Iran if negotiators fail to reach a deal.
“We have been quite clear of why we have concerns about this piece of legislation passing the US Congress right now,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Friday.
Earnest said the international community “would understandably perceive that as a violation of that agreement” according to which world powers agreed not to impose more sanctions while the talks are being held.
He said the bill would leave an “open question” and that is whether Washington can stay committed to agreements it made at the negotiating table. The bill would also “undermine” the ongoing efforts to reach a deal, he noted.
The White House official also said the Obama administration is interested in having a constructive working relation with the Republican-led Congress over Iran.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday warned the Congress against imposing sanctions, saying, “Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran… Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement.”
“New sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails,” he said. “That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress.”
Hours after Obama threatened to veto any Iran sanctions legislation, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said he had invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address the issue.
Earnest again said on Friday the invitation and its acceptance were both a “departure from protocol”.
Obama has warned Netanyahu to stop encouraging US congressmen to pass new sanctions legislation against Iran.