The Obama administration asked Congress on Thursday to delay a new round of sanctions against Iran, citing new negotiations and the progress made in recent overtures between President Barack Obama and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani. Until now, the administration has claimed to pursue a “dual track” policy, in which it applied pressure through sanctions while at the same time remaining open to diplomatic progress.
Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that delaying sanctions could help create a window in which new talks could work. “We do believe it would be helpful for you to at least allow this meeting [between negotiators in Geneva] to happen on the 15th and 16th of October before moving forward to consider these new sanctions,” she said, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The Obama administration’s stance places it somewhat at odds with Israel, whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told President Obama on Monday that sanctions should be strengthened if Iran does not dismantle its nuclear program. In his address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Netanyahu warned that Iran was offering “meaningless concessions in exchange for lifting sanctions,” and urged the world to “keep up the sanctions.”
The new sanctions, which passed the House of Representatives in July as the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013, aim to restrict Iran from selling its oil to other countries, and to punish firms or individuals that help Iran’s mining sector, as well as removing the president’s authority to waive certain penalties, among other measures. The bill is considered likely to pass the Senate despite the Obama administration’s cautionary posture.