U.S. legislators are considering a less ambitious alternative to an Iran-sanctions bill that has failed to come to a vote, Reuters reports.
Democrats in the Senate decided against pressing Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to allow floor consideration of the earlier sanctions proposal, legislative staffers told the wire service on Monday. That bill, called the Nuclear Weapon-Free Iran Act, now has 59 backers in the upper chamber.
Lawmakers in both chambers of Congress are in talks on a potential new text for a non-binding resolution that would implore diplomats to assume specific stances in nuclear negotiations with Iran, the Capitol Hill insiders said. Some U.S. lawmakers are pressing for Tehran's assent to giving up a wide range of assets relevant to a potential nuclear-arms program, including an unfinished heavy-water reactor and all uranium enrichment.
The congressional staffers added, though, that the Obama administration is likely to chafe even at a non-mandatory statement from Congress. The White House threatened to block the earlier sanctions proposal on grounds that it could endanger diplomacy intended to secure enduring restrictions on Iran's disputed atomic program.
Iranian envoys are tentatively slated to hold new atomic discussions in New York next month with counterparts from the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said this week in comments reported by al-Monitor. The talks are aimed at securing a broader, longer-term successor to a November deal in which Iran agreed to restrict certain atomic activities for half a year.
On Tuesday, the Obama administration issued a rundown of short-term sanctions curbs it would provide to Iran under the interim nuclear accord, which took effect last week. Tehran maintains that its atomic efforts are strictly peaceful, but Washington and its allies fear the activities could lead to development of an Iranian nuclear-weapon capability.