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By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON Jan 26 (Reuters) – Democratic U.S. senators
introduced a resolution on Monday opposing more sanctions on
Iran unless nuclear talks fail or Tehran breaks an agreement,
countering a push for tougher sanctions backed by Republicans
that President Barack Obama has pledged to veto.
“For those who agree that the sanctions bill in the Banking
Committee is detrimental, this resolution provides an option in
support of diplomacy,” Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, a
leading co-sponsor of the resolution with Senator Chris Murphy,
said in a statement.
Backing the Obama administration, she said enacting new
sanctions during the negotiations would “gravely undermine”
efforts to reach a nuclear agreement with Tehran.
The Senate Banking Committee is due to vote later this week
on legislation being developed by Republican Senator Mark Kirk
and Democrat Robert Menendez that would toughen sanctions on
Iran if there is no nuclear agreement before the end of June.
Six world powers – the United States, Britain, China,
France, Germany and Russia – have given themselves until the end
of June to produce a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran and end a
long-running dispute over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
Obama pledged in his State of the Union address last Tuesday
to veto the Kirk-Menendez measure, which has strong support
among many Republicans, who contend Obama is so eager to reach
an important agreement with Iran that he is giving up too much
in the talks.
The dispute contributed to a diplomatic flap. U.S. House of
Representatives Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, announced
the day after Obama’s address that he had invited Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress on Iran, without
consulting the Obama administration or congressional Democrats.
Netanyahu on Sunday defended his planned speech, saying he
had a moral obligation to speak out on an issue that poses a
mortal threat to Israel. His visit to Washington next month has
drawn accusations in Israel that Netanyahu is undermining the
country’s core foreign alliance in an effort to win an election
two weeks after the trip.
The new resolution’s other co-sponsors include Democratic
Senators Tom Carper, Dick Durbin, Al Franken, Martin Heinrich,
Patrick Leahy, Jeff Merkley, John Tester and Sheldon Whitehouse,
as well as Senator Angus King, an independent who caucuses with
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Sandra Maler and