Obama to Congress: Give Iran sanctions a chance
November 14th, 2013
03:23 PM ET

Obama to Congress: Give Iran sanctions a chance

By Jamie Crawford

Additional sanctions targeting Iran's disputed nuclear program could undermine international progress already made on the issue, President Barack Obama said Thursday.

"If we're serious about pursuing diplomacy then there's no need for us to add new sanctions on top of the sanctions that are already very effective, and that brought them to the table in the first place," Obama told reporters at the White House.

Obama said he would like to see if a "short-term, phase-one deal" with Iran can be put in place in the near term that requires Tehran to freeze aspects of its nuclear program while the international community negotiates a more comprehensive long-term deal.

The President's remarks come amid a growing call in Congress that tighter sanctions are the only way to get Iran to ultimately acquiesce and agree to a deal that would stop what the United States believes is its march toward a nuclear weapon.

"If it turns out six months from now that they're not serious, we can crank - we can dial those sanctions right back up," Obama said, noting that the economic penalties have hurt Iran's economy.

Obama reiterated his administration's policy that Iran should not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon, and that he was leaving "all options on the table."

The United States, along with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany came close to a deal during talks with Iran in Geneva last week.

The talks ended with both sides blaming each other for the lack of an agreement.

Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and other members of the administration have been briefing members of Congress this week on the status of the talks, while asking Congress to hold off on additional sanctions while the current round of discussions continue.

Kerry and officials from the State and Treasury departments briefed members of the Senate Banking Committee as the panel considers moving additional sanctions legislation.

Many Republican members of the committee came away from the meeting still pushing for more sanctions.

"I think today is the day in which I witnessed a future of nuclear war in the Middle East in the future (that) someday will be part of our children's heritage," Senator Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) told reporters, while accusing the administration of appeasing Iran like Britain did Nazi Germany in the 1930's.

In an interview with MSNBC on Thursday, Kerry said 95% of the "core sanctions regime" with Iran would remain in effect under the current administration plan, while allowing for the movement of a "tiny portion" of Iranian assets frozen in international banks to flow as discussions continue.

State Department spokeswomen Jen Psaki said Thursday additional sanctions could embolden hardliners in Tehran to balk at the diplomatic effort and "could end the negotiations."

Discord over the administration approach toward Iran went beyond those briefed on Capitol Hill.

Sen. John McCain said he is "very disappointed" with the administration – and especially Kerry – on the issue of nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Kerry is "a good friend of mine," McCain said. But when it comes to Iran, "this guy has been a human wrecking ball."

Obama's comments came the same day the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, released a report saying Iran had halted the expansion of a majority of its uranium enrichment capacity.

Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is scheduled to lead the American delegation at the next round of talks next week in Geneva.

- CNN's Bryan Koenig contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Iran • Obama
soundoff (23 Responses)


    November 18, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Reply
  2. budsview

    it would be just the disaster this admin needs, can you see it? never let a disaster go to waste. what a chance to declare marshall law. control everything.

    i'm thinkng that the bomb will be in our very near future, and this administration is is looking to make it happen.

    November 17, 2013 at 8:23 am | Reply
  3. Asad

    It's big mistake to trust the Iranian government, because if we look at the Iranian trend for the last 20 years ,it's all about making weapons , long range missile , drone plane, big military navel , tanks, canon, that proof and show the vision of this government . the most dangers issue is, that Iran supported and fund and train some terrorist groups like Hezbollah , other groups which killed American soldiers in Iraq, imagine now this government got nuclear weapons , to secure the oil to Europe and other part of the world will be threatened by Iran, and Iran will blackmail the west. I can't understand how can we trust Iran and we know for sure they were lying for the last 20 years.

    November 16, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Reply
  4. Rick

    So in short, there was no deal, but now there is a deal, even though the deal was not good enough in the 1st place. What has changed in this deal since it was rejected in the 1st place ?

    November 16, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Reply
  5. Jason

    Could this be a tactic, by Obama to put Israel in a position to where they have to act? It's not a surprise to anyone that has been paying attention, Obama greatly dislikes PM Netanyahu and is working behind the scenes to split the land.

    Sources online say, Obama has been lifting sanctions for the last 5 months without Congressional approval and no agreement with Iran. Obama needs to be impeached!!!

    November 15, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Reply
  6. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    November 15, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Reply
    • John Geheran

      Well said, John. How true that is! We have to stop electing all these right-wing fanatics into office. The longer they stay, the worse for all of us!

      November 15, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Reply
  7. Hasan

    Most of Iranian do not forgive and do not forget all crimes that regime of Mullah committed to the Iranian including raping, torching, executing, jailing, terroring for just requesting democracy, even Obama is serious about pursuing diplomacy with the criminals!.

    November 14, 2013 at 11:15 pm | Reply
    • WERTWERT32452345

      You seem to forget Hasan, that the Shah Reza Pahlavi was far worse than the current Mullahs of today and don't forget about the SAVAK which has tortured and slaughtered millions of Iranians during the 1950's, 60's and the 1970's! Most of all, don't fall for all that right-wing propaganda coming out of Washington D. C.

      November 15, 2013 at 9:07 am | Reply
  8. Mike

    Dictator supreme leader of Iran remind me the Muammar Gaddafi.
    He is despot to the Iranian and wanted to have nuclear weapon to keep himself in the power for ever! and also protect his regime against any external threat.
    More sanctions would shake his regime to give up.

    November 14, 2013 at 9:52 pm | Reply
  9. Food for thought

    I don't particularly like Iran, but...

    Yoiu do realize that since sanctions were imposed over nuclear issues, Iran has boosted their number of centrifuges from around 2,000 BEFORE sanctions to around 13,000 now? Basically, the sanctions have caused Iran to ACCELERATE their nuclear development, not slow it down.

    So would new, tougher sanctions actually cause Iran to slow down their nuclear program??? It hasn't worked in the past. Why should it work now?

    There is such a thing as "sanction fatigue" where basically countries become sympathetic to those being sanctioned and "bend the rules." It happened in Iraq, where Europeans were starting to realize how many Iraqi civiliians were dying bedcause of the sanctions (a LOT more than Saddam Hussein gassed, in case anyone is wondering). The bush administration stated that Iraq qas getting around sanction. This was true; many countries friendly with the US stopped FULLY enforcing the sanctions and looked the other way. this COULD happen with sanctions on Iran, too.

    Looking at other options:

    The US or Israel could perform a LIMITED military strike on Iran. People in the intelligence agency said that might push their capability back a couple of years. But then what? My guess is that the rulers of Iran (and the Iranian people) would be MORE adament about developing a nuke. Those Iranian politicians / rulers that have been feeding the line that "Iran needs nukes for protection from outsiders" would be given a field day.

    There is of course prolonged ground / air intervention by the US (along with other countries). Don't know how much the US public would favor that. Don't think it would be particularly palatable to our allies, or to the Russians, either. On the other hand, I am pretty sure that al Qaeda and other radical Sunni groups would LOVE the idea of us invading Iran.

    There is, one should not rule out, the possibility of an attack AGAINST Iran by the US or Israel using WMD. While that would truly eliminate the nuclear program, I am not sure how palatable a nuclear preemptive strike would be with anybody.

    But to be honest, I truly believe that if Iran actually WANTED a nuke, they would have one by now.

    If I remember correctly, India developed a nuke back in the late '60s (like around 1967??? I apologize if I am wrong). Pakistan developed a nuke in the mid-1970s (again, apologize if I am wrong about the date, but I am fairly certain it is accurate).

    Both Pakistan and India were able to develop their nukes in secret, and it was a surprise when they were tested.

    I am guessing that nuke-making technology has invcreased the ease of making bombs in the last 40 years or so. I think if Iran REALLY wanted a nuke, they woule have already developed one by now. I am pretty sure that Iran has much more nuclear knowledge than either Pakistan or India had when they were developing their first nukes (and hey, nowadays Iran can just google stuff they don't know anyhow...)


    I truly hate violence and truly love peace. I wish deeply that EVERYBODY gets their act together and finds a peaceful situation to this. I know I am dreaming, but stranger acts of cooperation between the US and Iran have happened in the past. Hey, remember the Iran-Contra affair? We sent anti-aircraft missles to Iran, and the best part is that the people who actually HELPED facillitate sending arms to Iran was... wait for it... Israel!!!

    November 14, 2013 at 8:40 pm | Reply
    • phyllis johnson

      remember when Obama started the sanctions before it or he took a long time and it will take along time to start them up again if iran doesn't cooperate however it only takes a few hours to reverse uranium enrichment. Obama knows this and Kerry doesn't have a clue. aipac better talk to congress and tell them to give more sanctions. I stand with Israel and Netanyahu I am black it seems to me obamas helping iran just like hes armed every muslim nation around Israel and alqada and jihadis in Syria which is what he wanted to do all along.the good Egyptians said Obama supports terrorist,tried to get morsi free.invited almiri a Iranian who killed americans into white house instead of arresting him

      November 14, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Reply
    • Rufus Reeta

      I appreciate your talking points. Said it like a sober minded peace loving Man. I would like to advise/advice(not sure which to use) that the time is here when the peace loving should band together tightly, very tightly actually mate. Forget about being a different nationality/race/tribe/ethnicity etc. It is written that we should pursue peace at all cost.
      Iranians can be a fierce People as history has repeatedly demonstrated. This, coupled with their religious politics makes for a necessity to be cautious when dealing with them. Give them a chance at negotiations but do not allow them to develop nuclear weapons primarily because of their belief system about the end times. A lost and unwise Ayatollah lacking in common knowledge might order a nuclear conflict in the belief that it will usher in a Muslim caliphate irregardless of the consequences. PM B. Netanyahu (sorry if spelling is wrong) can help by being more stately too. I think his approach and actions appear too independent and boastful at times

      November 15, 2013 at 6:26 am | Reply
  10. Skorpio

    Islamic MO is based on an "eye-for-an-eye" law, Muslims are used to threats, punishments, coercion, force, vengeance, intimidation and violence coming from their leaders in order to accept, acknowledge or do things, otherwise they won't move a finger, it can become an eternal discussion without results. Syria is one example, unless you put a gun to Assad's head, he wouldn't concurred.

    November 14, 2013 at 7:08 pm | Reply
  11. mullahproblems

    Reblogged this on The Mullah Problem and commented:
    See, this is an issue. We have them on the ropes, we have them actually at the table, and they look like they're going down. THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO RELENT. We need to hammer them, we need to cripple them. The worse the sanctions are, the better chance we have to really cripple the Mullah regime. C'mon Mr. President, you can't let up now.

    November 14, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Reply
    • John McKane

      Here goes another weak minded fool above, vomiting out his ignorance over these talks with Iran! People like this are the reason we can't have peace in order to go on tackling world hunger, poverty, ignorance and disease! These people deserve nothing but a deaf ear from the rest of us!

      November 14, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Reply
  12. John Geheran

    How sickening can this get! Give the politics of hunger a chance? Just what will it take to satisfy these right-wing nut jobs short of war? Enough is enough!

    November 14, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Reply
  13. Random

    What have we been doing for the last two years Obama? Waiting for them to work. It FAILED>

    November 14, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Reply

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