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Senators Count Down to New Iran Sanctions Push

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), right, confers last month with panel Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). Both lawmakers signed a Thursday endorsement of possible bipartisan action in coming weeks to pass new sanctions legislation targeting Iran's disputed atomic activities (Mark Wilson/Getty Images). Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), right, confers last month with panel Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). Both lawmakers signed a Thursday endorsement of possible bipartisan action in coming weeks to pass new sanctions legislation targeting Iran's disputed atomic activities (Mark Wilson/Getty Images).

More than a dozen Democratic and Republican senators on Thursday said they could be weeks away from launching a bipartisan push for new sanctions targeting Iran's disputed nuclear program, Politico reported.

The 14 lawmakers could cooperate to advance new sanctions legislation against Iran when their chamber reconvenes next month, they said in a joint statement. Their warning -- one of several recent Senate threats of punitive action -- came during the third round of high-level multilateral talks in recent weeks to address global concerns that Iran's ostensibly peaceful atomic program is geared toward development of an atomic-weapons capacity.

"A nuclear weapons-capable Iran presents a grave threat to the national security interest of the United States and its allies, and we are committed to preventing Iran from acquiring this capability," according to the statement, whose signers included Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

"We will work together to reconcile Democratic and Republican proposals over the coming weeks and to pass bipartisan Iran sanctions legislation as soon as possible," the document states. The other signatories were Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and John McCain (R-Ariz).

Also on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he could back new Iran sanctions legislation once his chamber resumes business after a two-week recess, the Associated Press reported. Corker separately unveiled new punitive legislation on Thursday, though he stressed earlier this week that the Senate would delay any action on sanctions proposals until after the Thanksgiving break.

The postponements followed recent calls by President Obama to hold off pursuing new sanctions until the prospects of the latest multilateral negotiations become clearer. Envoys have suggested that the latest meeting between Iran and six other powers -- China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States -- might continue past its scheduled Friday conclusion, CNN reported.

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