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Obama Officials Want to Slow Iran Penalties Push

The Obama administration wants to slow a push by lawmakers to enact new, sweeping Iran penalties until President-elect Hassan Rouhani has a chance to sweeten his nation's offer in an international atomic standoff, insiders said in a Tuesday report by the Associated Press.

Rouhani is set to take office on Aug. 3. The House of Representatives could approve the proposed building, mining and petroleum sanctions before next month's congressional recess, but Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said his chamber would consider the measures no sooner than September.

White House national security staffers are evaluating the willingness of Tehran's incoming president to curb aspects of Iran's uranium enrichment program, which could generate civilian nuclear fuel as well as bomb material. Washington and its allies suspect Iran is using its ostensibly peaceful nuclear program as cover to pursue a military capability.

Rouhani's team has "not made any decisions about entering talks with the U.S.,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi said on Sunday in a report by the country's Fars News Agency.

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday said "the Americans are unreliable and illogical, and are not honest in their approach," the New York Times reported. The top Iranian decision-maker cited past experience as the basis for his assertion.

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