Senate may weigh more sanctions against Iran, despite nuclear deal

The deal brokered between six major countries, including the United States, and Iran to slow the country’s nuclear program in exchange for loosened sanctions has been met with a cool reception in Washington from members of both parties.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) acknowledged on Monday that stronger sanctions against Iran may be considered when the chamber reconvenes early next month, though, they could be vetoed by President Obama:

Reid called the pact negotiated between six world powers and Iran an “important first step,” but expressed uncertainty whether it would be good enough.

“When we come back, we’ll take a look at this to see if we need stronger sanctions,” he said in an interview on “The Diane Rehm Show.”
“If we need to do stronger sanctions, I’m sure we will do that,” he said. “We’ll move forward appropriately.”

Reid acknowledged President Obama could veto stronger sanctions passed by Congress if he believed they ran counter to his foreign policy agenda.

Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the third-ranking Senate Democratic leader, criticized the deal at a press conference in New York Sunday.

“It was strong sanctions, not the goodness of the hearts of the Iranian leaders, that brought Iran to the table. And any reduction relieves the pressure of sanction and gives them the hope that they will be able to obtain a nuclear weapon,” he said.

Schumer said the “disproportionality” of the agreement would increase the likelihood of Congress passing additional sanctions in December.

On three occasions between December 2011 and May 2013, the Senate passed measures tighten sanctions against Iran. The country’s continued development of its nuclear program has led to another round of potential sanctions, despite electing a new leader who, some say, has taken a more moderate approach.

It’s likely, as Reid indicated, that President Obama would veto tougher sanctions, wanting instead to give the six-month window for Iran to show its destroying its stockpile of uranium that could be weaponized.

Whether Congress would override such a veto remains to be seen. But as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told a predominately Jewish audience this weekend, most members in both parties in Congress are opposed to the deal and may be ready to fight it.

The deal has also been panned by some on the international stage — including Israel, a country that would be immediately threatened by nuclear weapons in the region, and Saudi Arabia. Iran, meanwhile, has claimed victory and hailed the deal legitimizes its nuclear program. The United States has already unfrozen $8 billion of Iranian assets, and it’s unclear how much more relief will be provided.

The Washington Post found that 64% of Americans support an agreement with Iran that would make it harder for the country to develop nuclear weapons, but 61% are not confident that such a deal would actually work.

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