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Republican Senators Ponder Tying Iran Sanctions to Ukraine Aid

Technicians handle a container of uranium ore concentrate at Iran's Isfahan uranium conversion facility in 2005. Senate Republicans are discussing whether to attach a controversial Iran sanctions proposal to a pending Ukraine aid bill. Technicians handle a container of uranium ore concentrate at Iran's Isfahan uranium conversion facility in 2005. Senate Republicans are discussing whether to attach a controversial Iran sanctions proposal to a pending Ukraine aid bill. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

GOP senators are mulling calls to attach a controversial Iran-sanctions proposal to a Ukraine aid measure awaiting consideration, al-Monitor reports.

"I think it's a good idea. The discussion [among Republicans] is going on right now," Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-Okla.) told the publication in comments published on Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has refused to allow a floor vote on the Iran penalties alone, prompting some Senate conservatives to advocate linking the text to every bill reviewed by the full chamber. Certain GOP lawmakers, though, have aired worries that the sanctions language would endanger an effort to make $1 billion in funds available to Ukraine's cash-strapped provisional government.

Senator James Risch (R-Idaho) said "it does make sense" to link the Iran language to every bill moving through the chamber. He added, though, that he was not prepared to give a "yea" or "nay" to adopting the tactic for the Ukraine legislation.

According to Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), acting on Ukraine should be the preeminent goal for lawmakers.

"If somebody has ... Iran sanctions or anything else as a higher priority, then they've got their priorities badly skewed," he said.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he hopes to avoid providing "anybody a reason not to support the Ukraine ... bill."

President Obama has pledged to veto the proposed Senate Iran-sanctions legislation, which would levy new punitive measures if Tehran does not agree in part to halt all uranium enrichment under a potential long-term deal addressing the Middle Eastern nation's suspected nuclear-arms ambitions. Iran defends its nuclear program as a purely nonmilitary endeavor and has ruled out fully halting the refinement process, which can generate peaceful reactor material as well as fuel for nuclear arms.

In a related development, Iranian state media said Russia has inked initial terms to construct two additional atomic energy facilities in the Persian Gulf nation, Agence France-Presse reported. The sites would be located in Bushehr, a coastal city now hosting Iran's first and only nuclear power plant.

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