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Report: Kerry Airs Openness to New Iran Sanctions

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, seen in Vienna on Sunday. Kerry reportedly said he would personally consider adopting triggered penalties aimed at securing a deal on Iran's bomb-usable nuclear activities. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, seen in Vienna on Sunday. Kerry reportedly said he would personally consider adopting triggered penalties aimed at securing a deal on Iran's bomb-usable nuclear activities. (Jim Bourg/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry voiced openness to proposals that would automatically tighten Iran sanctions under certain conditions, al-Monitor reports.

Addressing a group of Jewish legislators behind closed doors, the top U.S. diplomat on Thursday said he would personally consider imposing triggered penalties in a bid to secure a deal on Iran's bomb-usable nuclear activities. The potential measures would take effect if an international agreement on the matter is not reached within a specific period.

Kerry stressed that the Obama administration had not signed off on the plan, according to multiple U.S. lawmakers. Tehran previously threatened to pull back from negotiations in response to such measures.

"He said it might be useful as a spur," one of the insiders said. "But he said he hadn't checked with the White House."

Kerry's reported remark prompted a favorable initial response from some lawmakers.

"I sensed an openness toward a sanctions bill that would be triggered by future events -- or untriggered by positive future events. ... I'd like to work on that," said Representative Brad Sherman (D-Calif). Sherman was not one of al-Monitor's sources on Kerry's comments.

The State Department said it remains formally against adopting any new penalties against Iran.

"Our position has not changed -- we do not support additional nuclear-related sanctions while we negotiate," spokeswoman Marie Harf wrote in an e-mail. "We will continue consulting closely with Congress, [which] has played a key role in building the sanctions regime we have in place right now, about the comprehensive negotiations and the path forward."

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