Saturday October 10th, 2015 2:28PM

Senators writing new sanctions in case Iran cheats

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Leading Democratic and Republican senators are crafting legislation to reinstate the full force of sanctions and impose new ones if Iran doesn't make good on its pledge to roll back its nuclear program, brushing aside the Obama administration's fears about upending its diplomatic momentum.

Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., hope to have the bill ready for other lawmakers to consider when the Senate returns Dec. 9 from its two-week recess, according to legislative aides. Many in Congress are skeptical, if not outright hostile, to the deal reached by Iran and world powers over the weekend in Geneva.

The Kirk-Menendez measure would require the administration to certify every 30 days that Iran is adhering to the terms of the six-month interim agreement and that it hasn't been involved in any act of terrorism against the United States.

Without that certification, sanctions worth more than $1 billion a month would be re-imposed and new sanctions would be added. The new measures would include bans on investing in Iran's engineering, mining and construction industries and a global boycott of Iranian oil by 2015. Foreign companies and banks violating the sanctions would be barred from doing business in the United States.

The senators hope to send the bill to the White House before the end of the year, said the aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak by name on the matter.

"I do not believe we should further reduce our sanctions, nor abstain from preparations to impose new sanctions," Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said after Sunday's interim agreement was announced.

The powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee echoed the call.

New sanctions are needed "so that Iran will face immediate consequences should it renege on its commitments or refuse to negotiate an acceptable final agreement," the group said.

Imposing stiffer economic penalties against Iran enjoys wide support in Congress. President Barack Obama has pleaded personally with lawmakers to give him more time and room for diplomatic efforts. The interim agreement promises no new penalties against Iran while it is in effect.

Administration officials say new pressure from Congress now could prompt the Iranians to walk away from the deal and cause unrest between the U.S. and its negotiating partners in the so-called P5+1 - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

"We need to give diplomacy a chance to work," Tony Blinken, Obama's deputy national security adviser, said Monday on MSNBC. "New sanctions now, on top of the ones that are already in existence and will continue to be implemented, we fear would be taken as a sign of bad faith, not just by the Iranians but, indeed, by our partners in the P5+1 and other countries around the world whose cooperation we require to implement the sanctions and make them effective."

Blinken said sanctions can be turned up "on a dime" six months from now if no comprehensive agreement is reached in the interim.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has yet to determine how he'll react to the agreement, Democratic aides said.

Reid said last week that the Senate would move forward with new sanctions when lawmakers return from their Thanksgiving break. But he took a more cautious approach Monday, saying on NPR's "Diane Rehm Show" that Menendez and Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, will study the interim agreement with Iran and "hold hearings if necessary."

"If we need work on this, if we need stronger sanctions, I am sure we will do that," Reid said.

The interim agreement allows Iran to keep central elements of its nuclear program, which it says is for peaceful purposes only, while capping its uranium enrichment to levels well below the concentration of fissionable material needed for nuclear weapons. Iran also must grant U.N. inspectors greater access to nuclear sites, neutralize higher-enriched uranium stockpiles and halt work on a planned heavy water reactor near Arak.

In exchange, Iran receives about $7 billion in relief over the next six months from international sanctions that have crippled its economy. More than half of that amount comes from money now in frozen accounts to which the Iranians will be given access. Iran also will be allowed to restart limited sales of petrochemicals and other products.

Having voted new sanctions against Iran four months ago, the House is waiting for the Senate to act. The House would likely give overwhelming support to any new legislation against Iran, given that it voted 400-20 in favor of new penalties in July.

The administration wants no new sanctions laws enacted while the world tests Iran's seriousness to curb its nuclear program. That applies even if the fresh sanctions come with wide waiver authority, according to congressional aides who have spoken with administration officials.

To that end, Secretary of State John Kerry planned a series of conference and private telephone calls with key lawmakers this week.

Mark Dubowitz, an Iran sanctions expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said Obama would be wise to back a kind of sanctions-in-waiting law from Congress at this time, if only to remind countries around the world that Iran isn't open for business.

The Kirk-Menendez bill "would be a gift to Obama and would help prevent the unraveling of the sanctions regime," Dubowitz said. "The sanctions were about fear and now the market psychology is changing from fear to greed. Greed overrides fear."
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 1 year ago )
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Feds announce test sites for drone aircraft
The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the march of the unmanned aircraft into U.S. skies.
2:23PM ( 1 year ago )
Congress letting 55 tax breaks expire at year end
In an almost annual ritual, Congress is letting a package of 55 popular tax breaks expire at the end of the year, creating uncertainty - once again - for millions of individuals and businesses.
2:21PM ( 1 year ago )
Feeling US snub, Saudis strengthen ties elsewhere
Increasingly vocal in its frustration over U.S. policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year.
4:34PM ( 1 year ago )
UN is next stop for Obama after success with Iran, pope; top issues are IS, Syria, Russia
NEW YORK (AP) — Fresh from successes on Iran and with the pope, President Barack Obama still carried heavy burdens into critical meetings this week at the U.N. General Assembly.They include the threat...
3:31PM ( 1 week ago )
Stunning Congress, House Speaker Boehner announces plans to resign; tea party declares victory
WASHINGTON (AP) — Plunging Congress into deeper turmoil, House Speaker John Boehner abruptly announced his resignation Friday, shutting down a tea party drive to depose the nation's highest-ranking Re...
6:14PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Tornado heavily damages 10 homes but causes no injuries on island in South Carolina
JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — A tornado quickly blew through a neighborhood on the South Carolina coast early Friday and blew out windows, knocked down trees and heavily damaged ten homes.The tornado touc...
5:08PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Caterpillar says it may cut more than 10,000 jobs by 2018, lowers 2015 revenue expectation
Caterpillar is planning another round of job cuts that could exceed 10,000 people through 2018, as the construction and mining equipment maker adjusts to downturns in key markets.That could amount to...
10:06AM ( 2 weeks ago )
Escaped tarantula grounds Atlanta-bound flight in Baltimore
An eight-legged creature that escaped in the cargo hold of a passenger flight from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International grounded the plane and sent passengers onto another flight.
By The Associated Press
9:06AM ( 2 weeks ago )