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Republican Lawmakers Move to Tighten Iran Sanctions

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, participates in nuclear negotiations in Vienna on Sunday with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Several GOP lawmakers are moving to tighten sanctions on Iran as early as Sunday. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, participates in nuclear negotiations in Vienna on Sunday with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Several GOP lawmakers are moving to tighten sanctions on Iran as early as Sunday. (Jim Bourg/AFP/Getty Images)

Republican lawmakers are moving to tighten sanctions on Iran as early as Sunday, a cutoff date for nuclear negotiations with Tehran, al-Monitor reports.

Multiple GOP lawmakers issued calls for new penalties against Iran after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday suggested the atomic discussions may need to continue beyond July 20, when an interim nuclear accord is currently scheduled to expire. Tehran has suggested that new punitive economic measures would kill prospects for long-term restrictions on its weapon-usable atomic activities.

"My hope is that the administration will finally engage in robust discussions with Congress about preparing additional sanctions against Iran," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said in released comments, referencing punitive legislation he introduced last year with Representative Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).

Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said he anticipated additional backing for a separate sanctions proposal he sponsored last year with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

"When we see how little they've gotten, Congress will want to disapprove of whatever is happening," Kirk told al-Monitor.

On Tuesday, Kerry said he would return from Vienna to confer with President Obama and Congress "about the prospects for a comprehensive agreement" on Iran's nuclear program. Tehran contends its atomic activities are peaceful, but has voiced openness to limiting certain efforts in exchange for sanctions relief from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Kerry said he would discuss "a path forward if we do not achieve one by the 20th of July, including the question of whether or not more time is warranted, based on the progress we've made and how things are going."

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