Mendez, other democrats write letter to Obama over Iran nuclear issue

Mendez, other democrats write letter to Obama over Iran nuclear issue

HomeUSForeign Policy Tue Jan 27, 2015 10:42PM

US Senator Robert Menendez says he will not support passage of an anti-Iran bill in the Republican-held Congress, which he himself has co-sponsored over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

Menendez, who is the chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Tuesday that he and some other Democrats would not back the passage of the bill until at least two more months as Tehran is engaged in nuclear talks with the P5+1 countries, including the United States.

“Many of my Democratic colleagues and I have sent a letter to the president, telling him we will not support passage of the Kirk-Menendez bill on the Senate floor until after March 24, and only if there is no political framework agreement,” Menendez said at a Senate Banking Committee hearing.

He further stated that he and his colleagues “remain hopeful” for a diplomatic solution to the issue.

US President Barack Obama has warned the Congress that he would veto any measures to impose new sanctions on Iran, which would bring about failure in the US diplomacy.

Pushing for Iran sanctions after a veto would require the Republicans, who hold 54 seats in the 100-member US Senate, to seek significant support from Obama’s fellow Democrats.

It was not immediately clear which Senators signed the letter to Obama.

“I cannot support any action that would needlessly undermine the chances for success in this effort,” Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly said while explaining why he favored holding off the vote.

Iran and the P5+1 countries — the US, France, Britain, China, Russia and Germany – are in talks to secure a final comprehensive deal over Tehran’s nuclear work.

Paris has also voiced opposition to imposing more sanctions on Tehran with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius saying on Tuesday that such a move would be “counter-productive”.

Since an interim deal was agreed in Geneva in November 2013, the negotiating sides have missed two deadlines to ink a final agreement.

Tehran and the six countries now seek to reach a high-level political agreement by March 1 and to confirm the full technical details of the accord by July 1.

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