A stalled U.S. push to advance new nuclear sanctions against Iran has lawmakers mulling how to hit it with terrorism-related penalties instead, al-Monitor reports.
A proposal to further exact a cost on Iran for supporting Hezbollah has been under consideration at the House Foreign Affairs Committee for months, the publication said in a Thursday article. However, the initiative reportedly gained new momentum after Democratic lawmakers stopped pushing to advance separate legislation that would threaten new nuclear sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation.
The United States and five other countries agreed not to impose fresh atomic penalties against Iran for the duration of a six-month atomic deal that took effect in January. Any new nuclear sanctions, according to Tehran, would prompt it to withdraw from an ongoing dialogue over concerns about its nuclear program.
Iran extended that warning to cover any sanctions that would be triggered if Tehran does not agree to specific terms in a potential final nuclear accord. The Persian Gulf power insists its atomic ambitions are purely peaceful, but has voiced openness to potentially accepting long-term restrictions on the efforts in return for sanctions relief from the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany.
President Obama previously issued a veto threat for the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, one bill containing Iran penalties. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) subsequently blocked floor consideration of the proposal, which has 59 co-sponsors.
According to one House staffer, Obama officials "can't say to Congress that we're going to blow up the nuclear negotiations by passing further authorizations for Hezbollah sanctions."
Former U.S. Treasury Department Matthew Levitt, though, suggested that a number of Obama insiders "would probably not want to see it right now if it has anything to do with Iran at all."