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Kerry warns Congress against anti-Iran sanctions

 
 
 
 
 
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US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned Congress that any new sanctions against Iran will be viewed as “bad faith” and can “destroy the ability to” reach an agreement.

“Our hope is now that no new sanctions would be put in place for the simple reason that if they are, it could be viewed as bad faith by the people we’re negotiating with, [and] it could destroy the ability to be able to get agreement,” said Kerry on Wednesday.

Kerry made the remarks before he entered a closed-door briefing with the Senate Banking Committee, where he said he would urge US lawmakers to “calm down” over new sanctions against Iran.

“What we’re asking everybody to do is calm down, look hard at what can be achieved and what the realities are,” he said.

The Senate Banking Committee is mulling over whether to move ahead with a new anti-Iran sanctions bill it had delayed before the latest round of talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, which ended on Sunday in Geneva without an agreement. The two sides have planned to meet again on November 20.

In an interview with Reuters on November 7, the chairman of the US Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota), said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) had asked him to go ahead with the consideration of the new anti-Iran sanctions legislation after the last round of nuclear talks in Geneva ended.

However, after the nuclear talks, Johnson said he would wait until the briefing with Kerry before making any decisions.

The new round of sanctions against Iran, which the Senate Banking Committee has been asked to “mark up,” were passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in July. The House bill seeks to cut Iran’s oil exports by one million barrels a day for the next year and includes threats of military force against Iran.

If the Senate Banking Committee decides to go ahead with the mark-up, the bill will move one step closer to a full Senate vote.

Meanwhile, the White House has severely criticized Congress for trying to impose new sanctions on Iran, saying new anti-Iran sanctions would be a “march to war.”

“The American people do not want a march to war,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday.

“Putting new sanctions in place would be a mistake while we’re still determining a diplomatic route forward,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a separate briefing at the State Department.

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